Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Gospel of Thom Smit

I.-- Once upon a time was the Word. And the Word was without form, and void.

In short, the Word was many words, and sometimes even things.

One could not tell the difference in any place, for all words and things were different; they were all different from each other, and they were even more different from the Word. And the Word, in its turn, was different according to whom you asked, and in what words you asked.

What's more, all was such that one could not fix one's eyes on any thing, or fix one's ears on any word, and expect it even to stay the same as itself.

In short, all words were different from themselves, and all things were different from any words, and also from each other, and also from themselves.

Even one's eyes were different, the left one from the right, and either eye was certainly different, very different, from either ear; and the ears protruded from each side of the head: in short, they were very different.

Then Thom Smit was born.

II.-- And Thom Smit did grow to be a youth of fourteen years, and his virtue did show forth in many ways.

And the people were astonished by his words, for he spoke as one with wisdom, and not as one who watched TV.

Said he: "Just as our elders, weakened by years of compromise, submit to the presence of those they loathe, so do our melons soak the fouled waters of the plain, till they poison both themselves and those that partake of them."

And: "Submit not to both these poisons. Though you eat the melons to the skin, yet leave the elders to chew their own bitter rinds."

And Thom Smit did take ceramics class at the Pottery Barn of the strip mall as you drive into town from Monona.

And he did throw him many a mean pot. And he did paint upon his pots designs and symbols, and the people did look at what he painted, and did say, "What hath this youth?"

For they said: "This youth is not like others, but hath him a perversion of the head."

And the owner of the Pottery Barn in those days was named Chuck, and Chuck did keep the pots of Thom Smit in the back, lest other youths should see them, and lest they should speak of them unto their parents. For on the pots were many things that youths should not see.

And some of Thom Smit's pots did the owner break outright, pretending they had cracked in the kiln. "For this one," sayeth Chuck unto his assistant, "this one is surely too much; I will not even fire this one."

And Thom Smit did suspect Chuck of thus breaking his pots, and spoke sorely unto him.

And Thom Smit did take him a can of maroon glaze, and did pour it into the drawer of Chuck's desk.

And the can was a large can, and did foul the books and papers in that desk, dripping even unto the floor.

And Thom Smit did break seventeen ceramic owls made by the ladies of St. James Lutheran. And Chuck did see him do it, and did hear him speak bitter words as he did it.

And Thom Smit was no longer welcome at the Pottery Barn, but did take up tennis.

Said he: "Our world is all preprocessed, and full of fakes; fakes upon fakes. The boredom of Formica covers all things here, even unto death."

And all of these things were when Thom Smit was still but a youth of fourteen years.

III.-- And it came to pass as Thom Smit was a young man that he went forth like many of his generation to work as a barista.

And this work was as he was a student at the university in the town of Madison; and the cafe in the which he did work was near upon the university, and was often filled with people.

And the people of the cafe were of many sorts.

And Thom Smit did work next to the scribe of that place, and he did serve forth the drinks unto the people.

And the prophet of that place in those days was named Cosmo di Madison. And Cosmo di Madison did preach the word of the Lord unto the people there. But the people heeded him not.

And Cosmo di Madison did resent the presence of Thom Smit at the espresso machine, and did make him out to be a servant of Belial.

And Cosmo di Madison complained sorely to the scribe of that place, and spoke many bitter words.

And the scribe of that place recorded the words of Cosmo di Madison, for in those days did he note down all his words.

And it came to pass when Thom Smit heard the words against him, that he did say unto Comso di Madison, and he said it unto his face: "A prophet art thou not, but art rather a paranoid schizophrenic."

And: "The symptoms are obvious upon you, O Cosmo di Madison, and all do know it. Thou art one who barkest at the moon. Woof woof!"

And Cosmo di Madison did not suffer the words of Thom Smit in silence, but did rail against him to all that would hear.

And Cosmo di Madison would drink no drink made by his hands, but did speak of such drinks as having a poison in them.

And one day Thom Smit did say unto Cosmo di Madison: "Today it seemeth you have not taken your medicine, O great prophet, and so it is that you speak forth loudly your prophecies, and the people heed you not."

And: "Today I have a hangover, O prophet, and care not to hear you. So get you hence through the door, or pay for your coffee like the others. If you cannot pay, so must you go hence to the street. For today I have a hangover, O prophet, and care not to hear your prophecies."

And upon hearing these words a rage did come upon Cosmo di Madison, and he did complain ever more sorely of Thom Smit, and did attribute to him many conspiracies and sundry larcenies.

And the scribe did write down all his words, for in those days did he write down all the words that the prophet did say.

IV.-- From the Scribe's Journals:

Thom Smit--to think he is a student of engineering! He's blond and small, of muscular build. He's a great reader of Gilles Deleuze, and considers himself a Nietzschean. It's lucky for me he's at the cafe. He's proving an excellent foil for Cosmo di Madison. I've recently got him reading Rabelais. --May, 1992

Cosmo di Madison now recognizes in Thom Smit a nemesis worthy of the swiftest action. That I'm responsible for his being hired at the cafe is generally known, and I confess it openly. I should have seen the man's character for what it was. Needless to say, Cosmo di Madison has forgiven this lapse on my part, pointing out that Pseudo-Sergeant Major Smit is obviously a professional and had been trained by Kissinger's people specifically to pull the wool over my eyes. Cosmo di Madison himself was almost taken in. "At first I thought he was just a loser like all the other losers. But it's worse than that. He's a fucking impostor--ya hear me?" --July, 1992
Remarks of Cosmo di Madison on Thom Smit:
1. "That useless fucking bastard calls himself a fucking lieutenant major, but he's just a fucking high school dropout drug addict who couldn't tell his ass from a hole in the ground if his life depended on it."

2. "How many customers do you think that fucking punk is gonna short change before Mark [the owner] wises up and fires him?"

3. "You know he's got his finger in the till and he's supplying all the barbiturates to Craig and Monkey Butt. Kissinger's got him working the joint to make sure they do their job and try to drug me every fucking chance they get. I wasn't born yesterday what do you think! Pssh! That fucking Craig has been selling the barbiturates on the side too.... Oh, don't act so surprised! You know it goes on."

4. "Mark needs to spend more time in his shop. I got enough stuff to do keeping the customers clean. If Kissinger buys out your staff, this place is finished, ya hear me? I won't come back. Ya hear me? You just see what'll go down then. Mark will wish he never even heard of this town. Ya hear me?"
V.-- And soon after these things had come to pass, behold it did happen that the spirit of the Lord came upon Thom Smit, and he began to speak in parables.

And all at the cafe did wonder upon it, and did say, "What hath Thom Smit, that he speakest thusly?"

And he did leave his work at the cafe, and ceased from his study at the university.

And Thom Smit went forth to preach unto the people like Cosmo di Madison, for the spirit of the Lord had moved him.

And Thom Smit did wander the streets on the west side of Madison, whereas Cosmo di Madison did preach in the downtown.

And Thom Smit preached the word unto the people of the west side, as you head out of town toward Monona. And the people heeded him not.

And thus it was that the people said amongst themselves: "Is Thom Smit also one of the prophets?" And these words are as a proverb even unto this day.

VI.-- And Thom Smit built his house on sandy ground, and sowed his seed upon the rocky wayside, and combed his hair with a goblet.

And he took a fox for a mango, and made of it a hairy puree.

And many did laugh at him, and said: "Thom Smit does not know his ass from a hole in the ground."

And they said: "Thom Smit could not find his ass with both hands."

But verily it was said unto them, and it was said by Thom Smit: "A day shall come to pass when none shall be able to tell their ass from a hole in the ground. And then shall a great wailing be heard."

And he said: "Only those who from the very beginning could not tell their asses from holes in the ground--only such as these shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven. All others shall be cast out, and their asses shall be grass, and they will know not if they have been turned into a golf course, or what. Boy, will there be wailing then."

And he said: "Those who mistake their asses for a wheelbarrow shall inherit the earth."

And he said: "Blessed are they who try to catch flies in their mouth. Blessed are they who would rather hang out in a juice bar than flay the fox with the big boys."

And he said: "My father is a colonel and I am a sergeant major. My father could thrash all your male relatives with his left hand if he wanted. My father has forty-seven Cadillacs."

But the people heard him not, and they sent him packing from their patio parties; and their daughters did tend to throw garbage at the back of his head.

But verily, reader, can you tell your ass from a hole in the ground even now?


NB: Written in 1993 or so, and published in Heretic Days. Cosmo di Madison, whose real name was Robert Hicks, was a well-known charismatic in Madison, Wisconsin, from the 1980s until his mysterious death in 2008. Thom Smit was, like myself, a student and barista in one of Madison's busiest downtown cafes in the early 1990s. "Monkey Butt" was, if I remember correctly, one Dean Estrada, and worked at the cafe with us and "Craig", Craig Kilander (sp?). Further matter on the Great Cosmo di Madison here: Gospels from the Last Man

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