Language setup: Dolby Surround-Sound 7.1 English/Japanese/Spanish/French Audio: English subtitles.
Trailer: Stranded in space, a victim of his own pathologies, Mattieu lays on his bed, flicking a cigarette into an ashtray that looks like a green UFO. Through the half-open window of his third floor apartment, Paris is a wet city of muted light, covered in sticky raindrops that resemble small tree ornaments.
Menu: Setup: Cause and Effect: On.
Play: Mattieu feels relieved. The key to his new community isn’t having more friends necessarily, it is seeing the invisible thread that connects him to everyone else.
Ingrid doesn’t understand Mexico City. The Santa Ana winds can only explain so much. Living without air-conditioning sucks. There’s nothing charming about feverish sleep, nothing noble about the hottest summer in fifty years. Between dripping foreheads, sticky black thongs or the sad little retreats into La Biblioteca Nacional de México, Ingrid has to remind herself that coldness isn’t a Norse legend. Now that she’s become a seasonal insomniac, she passes the time at night by using her Japanese-Spanish Dictionary prophetically. She feels guilty about this. She knows she’s ripping off the Romans, who used the Aeneid, but Virgil bores her. She can’t make it past the sixth page. Or she skips to the part with the Golden Bough. And now, Ingrid just accepts that tools of prophecy are random anyway. If Nostradamus can use a bowl of water, and Cypriots, coffee grinds, if meteorologists can use computer simulations, then surely she can use an old Japanese-Spanish dictionary. She asks herself an important question about the future and then opens up the book to a random page, her finger resting on a cluster of meaningful words, one of them, bursting with her unsolved future.
: La Tiranía
Michiru looks out the window. It’s still raining. Tokyo is a world of vertical people, a city of wet capsules. Tokyo is bright, overcrowded, electric, a city of swarming pedestrians. Tokyo is a pinball machine trapped in heavy clouds and autocratic rain: forcing people into raincoats and pink and green umbrellas. Tokyo is like the sixth floor, just like cubicle village, with neon signs and giant flippers.
Michiru is allergic to water. He has no choice but to open up his book and continue reading. He is trying to learn French on his own, building it up by degrees, which means:
The conjugation of être and avoir
-er verbs, present and simple past.
-re verbs, present and simple past, -er verbs imperfect and future tenses.
-ir verbs, present and simple past, -re verbs imperfect and future tenses, -er verbs, conditional and present subjunctive.
Vocabulary for: the home (the bathroom, the balcony, the closet), professional etiquette, getting around town, ordering eel at the sushi bar, making a wish at the Zen Temple, shopping for televisions and DVD’s, objects in the kitchen, working out in the gym, traveling to America.
Michiru is reading a poem about love triangles and voyeurism. When he comes to the word rodage, he circles the word, turns the book upside down, opens up his Japanese-French Dictionary, and reads:
Rodage: NM —: breaking in. la voiture était en ~ the car is being broken into. : [mise au point]. An adjustment, a clarification, focusing. On a dû fatalement accepter l’année suivante, une période de ~ we had to inevitably accept the following year as a time of catching up to speed.
Mattieu stares at his car. The passenger’s window is broken. His stereo has vanished, eviscerated; it’s become a bundle of dangling wires. He adjusts his eyes, notices the trident-shaped crack, two splitting paths, held together by fragile bonds of nostalgic glass but somehow still connected, still clinging like freshly broken lovers. And the door: someone has scratched an illegible message on it with a savage key. The light blue paint has been scratched off, revealing a steel frame exterior. Mattieu imagines carjackers, high on amphetamines, writing him love notes with a Philips screwdriver. The real problem isn’t that humans are alienated, it’s that they feel alienated. This is the only reason criminals can break into cars, and rape women in front of their struggling husbands, and embezzle Euros from charities and plant radioactive bombs inside subway routes and mutilate little children and eat monkey brains in Chinese restaurants and wear alligator boots and mink scarves and spray-paint swastikas on the doors of Jewish boarding schools and bomb Iraqi weddings and open fire in crowded movie theaters and stab their fiancées with a letter opener and drown old people and strangle stray cats. Humans are numb, expressing emotion only when it reaches the boiling point, when it’s no longer treatable. Humans don’t feel anything, but when they do, it’s always anger, resentment, sadness and fear, the things our mind can’t delete or domesticate. As social creatures, humans are disconnected from their primordial tribe. The human world is a multi-level bookstore, a place populated by silent people who read to themselves and flip through magazines. The human world is a violent mosaic, shimmering shards of iridescent glass, elbow-to-elbow, side-by-side, their rough, chipped transparency, the armor of their forearms and biceps, almost grazing each other.
Mattieu walks to the metro, connects at the Pasteur stop until he arrives at Charles de Gaulle airport. He gets in line, and counts the number of people wearing black. Forty-seven.
Ingrid is in her black thong. She needs to do laundry, thinks thongs are for college hussies; she doesn’t particularly like the idea of a cord pretending to be a median line between her ass cheeks. Her ass isn’t a highway, after all. Highways have traffic. People pass each other on highways. Not on this booty. But everything else is dirty. She can’t even wear her pair of sweat pants commando anymore. They’re too warm and they smell like sexual longing; they are an artifact, a flash card of desire, back when Spencer was studying at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana and she was still painting. She hates Spencer now. She hates doing laundry in the summer. Laundromats are creepy. She met Spencer in a Laundromat. She always finds men staring at her underwear. Spencer was staring at her underwear as she was folding them into dainty little triangles. She always notices stains on men’ boxer shorts, always blushes when she notices that men don’t care about their underwear; men don’t care about stains. Spencer recycled his underwear like a dumbass; he bought four new pairs every week after Ingrid pointed out his blotchy boxers like an art critic reviewing a gallery of stick figures and finger paintings. Ingrid thinks men act like they deserve a prize for doing their laundry, like the simple act of spinning and drying a pair of Calvin Kleins disqualifies men and their stained underwear from the list of nasty lovers. She thinks men are disgusting and lazy. She knows Spencer was more disgusting and lazy than the other men she’d dated. She loved Spencer though, until she met Miguel, until she met Sven. Now she wishes women had cocks; she’d become a switch hitter instantaneously. She’d fuck all her best friends, in between dessert and “The O.C.” Ingrid hates Laundromats. Someone is always watching telenovelas like “El amor en el desierto,” or “The Love Merchants of Oaxaca” or “The Pineapples in the Forbidden Garden.” Ingrid is, in fact, inside a Laundromat right now and she can’t help but notice that someone’s watching “Los Vaqueros de mi Corazón.” She’s watching the dryers spin in circles, circles of swirling—probably stained—white underwear, circles of blacks sweatshirts and black matching panty and bra sets, circles of blue jeans and college sweatshirts, circles of pink v-neck sweaters, carnation-colored tights and rose sweat pants.
Michiru is home. He is packing some things for his business trip. He is flying to Seattle. Michiru looks at Taki-Taki, his girlfriend, who’s fallen asleep on her stomach, her bathrobe ruffled, still clinging to her waist, her legs open. Michiru likes her, likes the fact that she has impossibly large tits and a bigger dick than he does. It’s the best of both worlds, an affirmation of his heterosexuality and his homoeroticism, proof that he needs to fuck more than one person at a time, even if they’re the same person, even if human sexuality is reducible to a single woman, condensed to one complex body. Taki-Taki is shy, she likes to lavish Michiru with little gifts of sugared ginger and teriyaki eel jerky. She’s high-maintenance—having both sexual organs is demanding, one of them is always unsatisfied—and she needs her own space a lot. Still, he’s going to miss her, can hardly believe they’ve been together as long as they have: five years, before and after she ordered takeout for her tits.
Setup: Cause and Effect: Off. Non-Linear Equations: On.
Play: Mattieu doesn’t get on his flight. He’s sick of his brother, sick of visiting him every three months, sick of St. Mark’s and sick of New Yorkers honking their cars and yelling in their cell phones while he takes strolls up 1st Avenue. With his suitcase in hand, he walks up the Metro staircase and sees Bonnard, talking on his cell phone near the news kiosk. Bonnard doesn’t see him, doesn’t see that Mattieu has just wet himself. But Mattieu remembers Bonnard, he remembers boarding school where they were classmates. Bonnard used to beat up the students in 9eme, and sodomize the older ones, the ones with fat asses like Léger portraits. Mattieu arrived in 3eme, somewhere between black eyes and rectal lacerations. Mattieu turns around to walk down the stairs, but then decides against it, walking down the sidewalk backwards until he reaches La Rue Fayette where he uses the bathroom to wash out his stained underwear. Then he orders Moroccan take-out. He looks out the window and thinks about human webs, bullies, about New York City, how his brother is probably waiting for him at JFK, wondering where the hell he is.
Ingrid hates flying but she promised her mother she’d come. She makes her annual voyage to Toronto. It’s so damn cold there. Even in August. The ritual is the same each year. She buys groceries, cooks crepes and potato stew, prepares pear salad with candied pecans for her mom. And then, when her mom falls asleep, she covers her with a blanket that smells like wet earth. Ingrid retreats to the guest room where she can always hear her mom snoring like an asthmatic. Ingrid changes her clothes and walks to the Kensington market where she enters her favorite bar, “The Black Widow.” She orders a tall Manhattan and looks around. Miguel knocks against the window, dressed in a cowboy outfit. She smiles. He walks in, leads her to the bathroom with the two-way mirrors. Without a word, they lock the door and fuck on the countertop of the woman’s restroom, his spurs jingling like Salvation Army Bells. Such exquisite pleasure. Such forbidden pleasure. Even Spencer couldn’t hit her G-spot this way: with such abandon, with such urgency. As the knocks on the door remind her of peasants storming the Bastille, Miguel thrusts himself more deeply into Ingrid, like he’s afraid she’ll disintegrate, like a flashback. He fucks her and this is his way of remembering her. He pounds her body like he’s trying to nail a dreamcatcher to the bed frame.
Michiru doesn’t like Seattle. If it weren’t for his job he wouldn’t come each year to the Summer Expo. The streets are barren like an aphorism. The city’s too big and there’s not enough people—and all of them are hakujin, his worst nightmare. But for some reason, he can’t move from his chair. He feels stuck to it. Just then, the waiter brings Michiru his dinner. He looks at his cell phone and dips a french fry in a red puddle. American food sucks but at least you get large portions. His cell rings. It’s Taki-Taki. Michiru doesn’t answer. He likes to finish meals before he uses his phone. He doesn’t know that Taki-Taki is leaving a voice message right now for him, explaining that she’s left him for another man, a man with one heart and one testicle.
Mattieu puts his suitcase in a locker at the train station and walks up the staircase from the Metro and sees a man that looks just like Bonnard, talking on his cell phone near the news kiosk. Bonnard, or a man that has an uncanny resemblance to Bonnard, doesn’t see him, doesn’t see that Mattieu is exhaling into his Bonnard-like face. Mattieu can’t decide whether it’s Bonnard or not. He decides it isn’t. He buys a copy of Le Figaro and walks to a nearby café. He orders a double mocha latte and reads the TV Guide: Cowboys of the Heart: 15h30.
Ingrid and her mom don’t really get along anyway. This year she decides to do them both a favor. At the last minute she changes her ticket and flies to Boston instead. Sven waits for her at the airport. She thinks of him as a shaman taking her through a dream vision of orgies and fetish parties; he’ll tie her up in four-point restraints, whip her ass until it’s red like blood sapphires, and then spread her legs wide open. As Ingrid wades through customs, she notices a TV. She looks up. The screen is blue.
Michiru chickens out. Fuck the Summer Expo. He decides he can’t leave Taki-Taki so he hails a taxi from the airport. The taxi driver looks like a human salad roll. Maybe that’s because he’s Chinese, Michiru thinks. He drives through mysterious alleys until Michiru doesn’t know where he is anymore. The driver turns around grinning. Michiru looks up and sees a sign blinking in pink and green lights:
HOUSE OF THE LADYBOYS
Where Men Will Be Girls, Boys Will Be Men and Lady Boys Will Be Spanked Like Bad Little Monkeys.
—That’s a hell of a sign, Michiru says.
—Hell of place, the driver says. Lady Boys world famous. ¥10,000 you pay.
Michiru charges the ride on his MasterCard and steps on to the curb. The lights are dazzling. As he steps through the entrance, he is greeted by five Lady Boys who take off his coat, massage his temples, and tickle his face with a peacock feather. They hand him a warm washcloth, run down the different services available on the LBFDM (Lady Boy Feel Deal Menu) and feed him ice-cold water in a pink and green crystal. Michiru turns his head sideways to make out the glass’s design: a penis wearing a sombrero.
Mattieu decides to stay on the Metro until the Palais des Congrès. He doesn’t know why, but for some reason he stays in his seat. Then he hears an explosion in the distance. The train stops. A chorus line of screaming Parisians, not unlike a French café. Mattieu sits in his seat until all the passengers evacuate in exodus. By then, it hits him: three fourths of the train has been obliterated. There are only forty people walking to safety in front of him. They are the lucky ones. Mattieu walks through the bowels of Paris like a member of a secret society until the passengers finally reach street level. They are greeted with camera flashes and paramedics. A nurse wraps a metallic blanket around Mattieu and tells him everything’s going to be okay. They just need to test for radiation poisoning first. She smells like someone he’s never loved before.
Sven waits for her at Logan airport. She thinks he acts like a shaman and decides she doesn’t want a spiritual lesson today. She puts on her Chanels and walks right past Sven holding her bags in her hands. He never notices. He’s too busy looking shamanly. She books a room at a stuffy hotel that is a stone’s throw from Harvard Square. Ingrid orders room service and eats her eggs benedict in the nude. She hasn’t felt this free since she was a child. She misses Mexico City but she appreciates her poached eggs, the way warm yellow yoke gushes on to her English muffins like the Mexican sun in the early morning.
Michiru gets to the bottom of his front stairs and then he turns around. He doesn’t want to go anyplace without Taki-Taki. He takes the elevator back up. As he’s about to unlock the door to his apartment he notices a white man in a gray pin-striped suit and angled fedora, a feather waving back and forth in the air. The man seemed to give him a bewildered look before disappearing in the elevator. What the hell was that all about? Michiru walks inside. Taki-Taki is gone. Once he’s taken a piss though and poured himself a gin and tonic, he realizes the patio door is half open. He looks outside and notices Taki-Taki crying, perched on the balcony with one foot dangling over the great void like an aerialist.
He missed the people in security line five. There are actually one hundred and eleven people wearing black at the airport security checkpoint, not including the gendarmes who look like stumpy fascists. Mattieu takes off his belt, his shoes, and his anorak. He curses America for longer security lines and religious wars. As if to confirm his feelings, he looks up at the television set, sees a Mexican Soap Opera, “Los Vaqueros de mi Corazón,” and then, Breaking News: Three trains exploded in downtown Paris, only seconds apart from one another. Authorities are still investigating whether this was the work of terrorist groups. Mattieu feels a sudden rush of emotion for his people, for his city, for the French way of life. He feels sadness inside his lungs when he tightens his seat belt. Halfway to New York, he looks through the window and cries. Mattieu, in his self-pity, feels a moment of clarity: humans are caught in an invisible web of inextricable ecology. The only reason they hurt each other is because they don’t know, or won’t accept, that all actions are global, no matter how local they seem. When Mattieu gets to New York City, he hugs the first woman he sees. She punches him in the forehead and tells him to get the fuck off her and he thanks her in his silent H kind of way. She doesn’t know, she wouldn’t know, that all phenomena are Siamese. After scanning for his brother, he takes a taxi to a hotel on Sixth Avenue. After he tips the porter, he walks to Central Park and sits directly in the sun. He keeps his phone on. He falls asleep immediately.
Ingrid sends her mom a card. She finds Mexico City unbearable, she explains, but she doesn’t want to go to Toronto this year either. Toronto is charming and everything, but it’s too damn cold for her. She wants to stay home for one summer and just paint, like she’s wanted to do since university, since her first orgy in Boston. She just wants to paint. She wants to paint the faces of strangers, the hands of clocks, wants to paint the smells of kitchens and sunburnt sidewalks. She wants to paint the spaces between stars, wants to capture the sounds of insect wings, the smell of damp wood, the taste of corpulent clouds. She wants to paint for the whole summer, and forget that there are men and pigments and rock songs and cities she can’t remember. She wants her paintings to invade her dreams and linger in her skin like the scent of acoustic guitars, like the language of fresh cut lemon wedges in brisk glasses of ice-water. When she returns from los correos, she slumps on to the sea foam tile and falls into a deep and vivid sleep.
Michiru cancels his flight and goes to an adult movie theater called The Sweatshop. Strangely enough, it’s air-conditioned. Putting on an Osaka Lions cap, Michiru scrutinizes the seats before sitting down. On the screen he sees a penis the size of the Hindenburg Zeppelin entering a Japanese Lolita as tall as the Tokyo Tower. Her breasts are little and jiggle as the cowboy screws her on the bathroom counter, his spurs jingling like Salvation Army bells. Michiru looks around, keeping his hand in his pockets. In the murky theater he can make out the ghostly profiles of men jacking off in their seats. Like the other disconnected characters in this story, he feels restless and worked up. But not exactly aroused. He sits there for an hour before they arrive. He knows her voice like it’s his mother’s. A man and woman pass him in the theater and sit down in the VIP couch area, the area where couples can perform for the audience. Michiru stands up and staggers toward the VIP area, following the other men to the center of the theater. Somehow he just knows it’s her. Once he’s three feet away from the Lover’s Couch, he hears Taki-Taki’s voice. She giggles as she unzips the man’s pants. The circle of men murmur in appreciation. Michiru fiddles inside his jacket pocket. Taki-Taki suddenly looks up at him, her eyes luminous with fear and disbelief. And then he pulls out his weapon and pulls the trigger an inch from her lips: a stadium horn. It fills the theater with dreadful and piercing noise. Taki-Taki covers her ears, howling, screaming, her face, contorted into a series of wrinkles. The men trolling the VIP area flee to the corners of the room, they run through the curtained exits with their pants down. Michiru notices Taki-Taki and her male companion plummet to the ground, their hands covering their ears, their mouths open in silent protest, like he’s going to slaughter them, as if they deserve nothing less than death. Michiru blasts the horn one last time and then leaves the theater, hails a taxi and collapses into a dreamless sleep, his ears still ringing like a rave kid.
Deleted Scene Five Point One: Michiru is home. He is packing some things for his business trip. He is flying to Seattle. Michiru looks at Taki-Taki, his girlfriend, who’s fallen asleep on her stomach, her bathrobe ruffled, still clinging to her waist, her legs open. Suddenly, a feeling wells inside his chest and he realizes he can’t leave her. He doesn’t have it in him. He wants to stay by her side, watch manga flicks and order eel from a local unagiya. He wants to wake up seeing her face. He wants to get a sex change too so they can become a perfect match, so they are both hermaphrodites, so that her man side can understand his woman side and so her woman side can understand his man side simultaneously. What fulfillment, to have sex like extension cords!
Deleted Scene Five Point Two: DUMBASS.
Deleted Scene Six: Mattieu’s Alternative #3 List.
3) Of my favorite things: Japanese porn, a really hot saucisson sandwich with fresh Alpine butter and crisp straight-from-the-baker’s-wife-I-mean-her-oven bread, the perfect autumn morning cigarette, little women who understand that men want to sleep with them because they’re chasing Nabokov’s butterfly around with an empty net.
3) Camembert, but not Président or Laughing Cow and remember toilet paper, a copy of le monde and light bulbs for new ideas.
3)rd Piano Concerto in C Minor by Ludwig Beethoven, less glitzy than the Emperor Concerto but in many ways, much more difficult to perform with a live orchestra.
3)TV, or TV3, depending on whether you’re dyslexic or not, has great German talk shows at night too where women take off their tops and yell “Ochten Sie Blumsen? Du bist eine müter-fucken!”
3) Paris of new underwear. No Manthongs.
Deleted Scene Seven: Michiru chickens out. He decides he can’t leave Taki-Taki so he hails a taxi, even though he’s on his own street. He gives the driver instructions. The driver nods as if Michiru’s instructions make sense. The taxi driver drives through mysterious alleys until Michiru doesn’t know where he is anymore. The driver turns around grinning. He shoots two slugs into Michiru’s forehead, giving him a third eye.
—Now you can see God too, he says, driving back to the AUM retreat.
Deleted Scene Eight: Blur post-story notes with multiple endings. Consider throwing in a visualization of Mattieu winking.
Deleted Scene Nine: She knows Spencer was more disgusting and misguided than the other men she’d dated. She thought of Spencer all the time, though, until she met Miguel at the university, and obsession seems closer to love than numbness. Now she wishes women could just order cocks online like CD’s, blenders, and books, she’d max out her VISA in one day.
Deleted Scene Ten: Offer translations.
Deleted Scene Eleven: Choking on open space, a target of his own pathologies, Mattieu stands on his bed like he’s about to do a somersault, flicking a cigarette into the steel ashtray that he holds in his hand, an ashtray that looks like a silver heart. He watches his neighbors making out in their window. Or was that on TV?
Deleted Scene Twelve: Hey! Where’s the Japanese you asshole? Ever consider giving the reader some nice, juicy kanji to suck on? Huh? You think of that, you fucking tool?
Deleted Scene Thirteen: Fuck Toronto. There’s too many streets there, too many four-stop intersections, too many noodle joints, too many contrapuntal narratives.
Deleted Scene Fourteen: No, on second thought. Don’t offer translations. I mean, who’s going to translate the English?
Deleted Scene Fifteen: The French don’t take vitamins. Only in the French Legion, only at private boarding schools, only in Louis Malle flicks.
Deleted Scene Nineteen:
Deleted Scene Twenty-One: Consider a different analogy for Matthieu’s broken window.
Deleted Scene Twenty-Five: Place Missing Persons Ad for Missing Deleted Scenes.
Deleted Scene Twenty-Six: Mattieu is taking a shit. He really hates intrusion of all sorts: narrative intrusion, authorial intrusion, reader intrusion, and bathroom intrusion. But let’s open the door anyway.
—What the hell? Get the fuck out of here! I’m taking a goddamn shit you asshole! Get the hell out of here! Can’t a man have some privacy? I’m not some purse dog, you know! I don’t need you to watch me squatting on the street corner across from Starbucks.
Deleted Scene Thirty-Five: Rent This Space. Call 1-888-R-E-N-T-M-E
Deleted Scene Forty: Actually, the characters don’t have to meet, but their lives should affect each other’s in some way.
Deleted Scene Fifty-Five: Michiru, Ingrid and Mattieu walk past each other at Logan International Airport. They stare at each other. Their hearts beating furiously like Teiko drums. But each person walks down a different terminal without looking back.
Deleted Scene Sixty-Four: Ingrid opens up her Spanish-Japanese Dictionary and turns to a random page. She appreciates the kanji and then reads the Spanish translation: Ladyboy. —What the fuck is a ladyboy, anyway? She asks.
Deleted Scene Sixty-Nine: 4) Paris of new underwear.
—What’s the problem? The narrator asks.
—You just said four Paris of new underwear.
—What is it really?
—Just think for a second, dumbass.
Deleted Scene Seventy-Nine: Ingrid grabs Mattieu’s hand. Michiru runs on stage and locks arms with Mattieu. Together they sing:
Love triangle, Love triangle,
Is it blue? Is it green?
Love triangle, Love triangle,
I hope it’s not scalene.
Love triangle, Love triangle,
They better make this hot.
A square, a circle, a rectangle,
Just don’t have the same plot.
Deleted Scene Eighty-Four:
—That’s a hell of a size, Michiru says.
—Wait a second. Cut. Michiru, try that again. It’s “sign” not “size.”
—Cool. Take it from the top.
—That’s a hells of a sign.
—Cut. Michiru. That doesn’t make sense. It’s a hell of a sign.
—There’s no “o.”
—Okay. Again. Take eighty-four.
The driver turns around grinning.
Michiru looks up and sees a sign blinking in pink and green lights. —That’s a hell of a—He starts shaking. The shaking turns to laughter. The taxi driver starts giggling too.
Deleted Deleted Scenes
Cut to blue screen.