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Piltdownlad #6: INSTITUTIONALIZED

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Piltdownlad #6

This issue features the “Institutionalized” story cycle, which is an exploration of one event told from the individual perspectives of four participants. Picks up where The Nasty Dear (Piltdownlad #4) left off: from the Jackson group home in Anniston, Alabama, to Hill Crest Hospital, a mental hospital in Birmingham, where my brother Joey is put in the Youth Ward and I end up in the Adolescent Ward. Meanwhile, our father and Rick come home to discover their fate: a potential life sentence for child sexual abuse. Interspersed among the narrative are actual court records from the trial, newspaper clippings, song lyrics, photos and other miscellany. As with all issues of Piltdownlad, not for the fainthearted or the hardhearted.

CONTENTS:

INTRO
LETTERS AND COMMENT
The “INSTITUTIONALIZED” story cycle:
1. The Adolescent Ward
2. Shit on A Shingle
3. POW
4. Group
5. The Hanged Man
6. Mister Nice Guy
7. Reckoning
8. Feeling Blocks
THE ZINES I READ
APPENDIX

100 pages
wraparound cover
perfect bound

Available through Amazon.com

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Death Is The Ultimate High – A Masque of Infamy Excerpt

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The social workers called me into the office. The first one gestured at my clothes. “Can I ask why you’re dressed this way?”

I looked down at what I was wearing that day: a sleeveless white t-shirt with an anarchy symbol scrawled on the front with a red magic marker.

“What? This is just my style.”

She pointed at my hi-tops. I’d written the word “FUCK” on the front tip of my right shoe, and on the left, “OFF.”

“You have ‘death is the ultimate high’ written on the side of your shoes… Are you suicidal?”

“No, that’s from Miami Vice. When Crocket and Tubbs went after these punk rock thugs, that’s what they had spray-painted on the side of their car. I just thought it was a funny expression. It’s not supposed to mean anything.”

— from A Masque of Infamy

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A Masque of Infamy – The First Edition

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00030]

A Masque of Infamy is a horrific and raucous story of teenage rebellion. But instead of “What d’ya got?” fifteen-year-old Louis Baudrey knows exactly what he’s fighting against…

After moving from Los Angeles to small town Alabama in 1987 with his father, his younger brother and this guy Rick, Louis tries to fit in at the local high school, but the Bible-thumpers and the rednecks don’t take too kindly to his outlandish wardrobe and burgeoning punk attitude. At home, he defies the sadistic intentions of Rick, who rules the household with an iron fist. As Louis begins to lose all hope, he stumbles upon indisputable proof that will free him and his brother from Rick’s tyranny. But just when he thinks his troubles are over, he’s locked up in the adolescent ward of a mental hospital, where he must fight the red tape of the system to realize his dream of being a punk rocker.

“A Masque of Infamy captures the screaming, up-from-the-toes intensity and torment of the United States of Adolescence. No one who reads this book will be left unchanged by its savage and unforgiving beauty.” – Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

“The overwhelming rawness of Kelly Dessaint’s story about children attempting to navigate a world completely fucked up by adults is like a punch to the chest.” – Davida Gypsy Breier, Xerography Debt

“Kelly Dessaint twists the horror of growing up in a highly dysfunctional American family into a hilarious tale of survival. Detailing the trauma of being institutionalized as a teenager after having taken revenge against an abusive father figure, A Masque of Infamy is a story about stubbornly overcoming the odds to live long enough to tell the truth about just how shitty it is to be a kid in this country.” – Lydia Lunch

For more information, visit:

THE PHONY LID PAGE FOR A MASQUE OF INFAMY

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SUCKS, ALABAMA: The Unexpurgated Adventures of Louis Baudrey vs. Saks High

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Because it was painful (though necessary) to remove several chapters from the final draft of A Masque of Infamy dealing with my hijinks at Saks High when I first moved to Alabama, I decided to put them all together and release it as the novella SUCKS, ALABAMA.

Download the eBook for free from iTunes here.

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Before I left California, all I knew about the South was what I’d seen on TV: The Dukes of Hazard, Roots, Deliverance… So that’s what I expected: racist, good ole boys, playing banjos and speeding around the countryside in souped-up muscle cars, murdering and sodomizing strangers. Despite the old man’s assurance that I shouldn’t believe everything I saw on TV, my enthusiasm waved from one moment to the next. But the truth was, I was ready for a fresh start.

I wasn’t leaving much behind in Rosemead. Just bad memories and the rest of my crazy family. I figured I could write my own ticket in a podunk Alabama town. Nobody needed to know that I was born in the crappy part of a crappy suburb on the wrong side of Hollywood. But while Rosemead was nothing like the Los Angeles depicted in movies and television, I looked totally LA. It was 1986. My style was an amalgam of punk and heavy metal. My hair was long and my pants were tight. My ears were pierced three times in my left and once in my right. I wore the same Iron Maiden shirt almost every day and never left the house without at least one bandana tied around my ankle.

How could I not ride into town and just take over?

Shit, in my mind, as soon as these bumpkins in Alabama got a look at me, the guys would idolize me, the girls would lust after me and all their parents would fear me.

I would finally become the person the audience in my head had always cheered for.

All the way across the country, as I sat in the backseat of my father’s low-rent Cadillac, alternately picking fights with Joey, talking back to Rick and zoning out to the soothing sounds of heavy metal on my Walkman, I felt it in my gut, a rising excitement that everything was about to change.

For better or worse, once I fulfilled my destiny, the name Louis Baudrey would be synonymous with infamy.

— from Sucks, Alabama

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A MASQUE OF INFAMY

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00030]

A Masque of Infamy is a ribald story of teenage rebellion and survival. After moving from Los Angeles to small town Alabama in 1987 with his father, his younger brother and this guy Rick, a friend of the family, Louis tries to fit in at the local high school, but the Bible-thumpers and the rednecks don’t take too kindly to his outlandish wardrobe and burgeoning punk attitude. At home, he defies the sadistic intentions of Rick, who tries to rule the household with an iron fist. As Louis is about to be shipped off to military school, he stumbles upon indisputable proof that will free him and his brother from Rick’s tyranny. But just when he thinks his troubles are over, he’s locked up in the adolescent ward of a mental hospital, where he must fight the red tape of the system to save himself, Joey and maybe even his dream of being a punk rocker.

“Kelly Dessaint twists the horror of growing up in a highly dysfunctional American family into a hilarious tale of survival. Detailing the trauma of being institutionalized as a teenager after having taken revenge against an abusive father figure, A Masque of Infamy is a story about stubbornly overcoming the odds to live long enough to tell the truth about just how shitty it is to be a kid in this country.” – Lydia Lunch

“A Masque of Infamy captures the screaming, up-from-the-toes intensity and torment of the United States of Adolescence. No one who reads this book will be left unchanged by its savage and unforgiving beauty.” – Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

“…hypnotizing… complex, multi-faceted, uncensored, honest — yet ‘creatively (and invisibly) engineered’ to provide a compelling narrative that I didn’t want to put down…” – V. Vale, Re/Search

“A Masque of Infamy is my kind of book! A no-bullshit novel – the type that reels the reader directly in with smooth passages, gritty dialogue and countless references to rock ‘n’ roll culture. The world needs less syrupy-sweet superficial feel-good yarns and more stories of surviving the human condition. Dessaint delivers.” – Wes Funk, author of Dead Rock Stars

“The overwhelming rawness of Kelly Dessaint’s story about children attempting to navigate a world completely fucked up by adults is like a punch to the chest.” – Davida Gypsy Breier, Xerography Debt

$14.00 . paperback . 320 pages . 5″ x 8″ . ISBN: 1-930935-33-1

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Check out some excerpts from the novel in the related posts below:

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Sucks, Alabama

We started the new year in Saks, a small community just north of Anniston near Fort McClellan. The three-bedroom brick house the old man rented was on the main road, down the street from a convenience store.

When we moved in, the utilities hadn’t been turned on yet. Our furniture was still in transit, so we only had what we’d packed for the trip. We spent the first couple evenings huddled around the fireplace in the empty living room trying to stay warm. The cold was shocking, having lived our entire lives in the moderate climate of Southern California.

During the day, we explored the town and countryside. I absorbed my new surroundings from behind glass. I knew Saks was going to be small, but I wasn’t prepared for just how remote it was. We drove through abbreviated pockets of civilization scattered far and wide, separated by hills and long stretches of thick forests. Trees, trees, trees… as far as the eye could see. There were so many trees, they formed canopies over the roads. When the woods gave way to farmland, we traveled through wide-open fields littered with bales of hay, tractors and dilapidated barns overwhelmed by vines. Along the highway were rows of mailboxes far from any visible house. Even though it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere, we passed BBQ joints and other roadside establishments that sold everything from mufflers to hairdos to religion. In Alabama, the churches resembled warehouses, with signs that announced denominations I’d never even heard of: Assembly of God, Church of God, Church of Christ, New Home Missionary, Open Door Fellowship, First Congressional Methodist, Pentecostal Assembly Covenant Life Ministries… I’d never seen so many crosses in my life.

There were almost as many crosses as there were trees.

And white people.

Everywhere we looked, in the other cars on the road, in stores and at restaurants, there were more white people than I’d seven seen in one place besides TV. Alabama was a two-tone world of back and white. No Mexican. No Chinese. No Filipinos. No Koreans. Just white people and black people. But what was even more astounding was how excruciatingly friendly they all were. Although we were strangers in these parts, when we entered an establishment, we were greeted with the sing-song drawl of a welcome: “How y’all doing?” Everybody sounded like extras from the TV show Hee-Haw. Not that our accents didn’t stand out as well. All we had to do was open our mouths and we’d get, “Y’all not from around here, are you?”

No siree.

The main part of town, which was only slightly more congested than the countryside, was a four-lane highway lined with shopping centers and fast food restaurants. After noticing the lack of foot traffic, I figured out why: there were no pedestrians because there were no sidewalks to walk on. Just ditches on either side of the road. This was a huge disappointment. How was I supposed to get anywhere? Back in Rosemead, our former stomping grounds were so ingrained in my memory, I could move through the streets and alleyways in my imagination without ever getting lost. I could count the number of houses on our street and name each occupant. The Baudrey Boys wandered far and wide. The day we realized we could go past the four block radius of the folks bailiwick and we wouldn’t fall off the face of the earth, we never looked back. We explored the depths of my neighborhood on foot and on bike. And if a destination was further than we could manage by tread of shoe of tire, there was always the RTD.

In Alabama, there were no buses on the road. Just big rigs among the pick-up trucks that outnumbered cars twofold.

Even the dirt was different. All my life I’d thought the universal color of dirt was brown. But in Alabama, the ground was red.

Our new home.

The differences were both intriguing and frightening.

–from A Masque of Infamy

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Another State of Mind

Saks, Alabama, was an electromagnetic wasteland, too remote to pick up a signal on the TV without cable. For the first time, I had access to MTV as well as shows like Night Flight and USA Up All Night. On weekend nights, I scoured the dial for videos, weird movies or anything with a little T&A. I was flipping through the channels late one Friday when I stumbled on a show with punks sporting mohawks and studded leather jackets.

I watched transfixed as the story unfolded. It was some kind of documentary about two punk bands from LA touring across the US and Canada in a school bus covered with anarchic graffiti. At each stop, they played shows in dingy clubs and warehouses, featured in the concert footage with a detailed demonstration on the techniques of slam dancing. There were interviews with kids all across the country. Kids with spiked hair, buzz cuts, mohawks, pierced noses and tons of make-up discussed their local scenes and what it was like to be a punk when the world around them refused to accept their music, their style and their way of life.


The movie covered all kinds of punks, from the drunk rowdy types to the straight edge movement in DC. There were even Christian punks. While they were in Canada, the bands stayed at a place called the Calgary Manor, where a bunch of punks lived together. They talked about running away from abusive parents and broken homes to form their own community centered around punk rock. In the backyard was a half-pipe. Bands played in the living room. They made meals and ate together, like one giant family. A family of outcasts.


This was the life for me, I thought, immediately overcome with the realization that something else existed out there. A punk rock life was everything I ever wanted: freedom, chaos, style, and an aggressive soundtrack. My new purpose in life was to find tapes by the bands Social Distortion, Youth Brigade and Minor Threat.

Inspired my the movie, I amped up my freak style and began to modify my wardrobe. With a marker, I drew an anarchy symbol on a ripped piece of t-shirt. Underneath that, I wrote “F.T.W.” and safety-pinned it to the back of my jean jacket. I drew crazy designs on my arms with a black PaperMate. I painted my fingernails black. I died my hair green with food coloring. I pierced my right ear a second time and inserted a long teardrop pearl earring.


As my transformation continued, I started getting dirty looks in the hallways of Saks High. People averted their eyes. I heard snide comments behind my back.

I was loving every minute of it.

 

–From A Masque of Infamy

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The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin

Cades Cove Methodist Church

The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin was the brainchild of Brett and Vic. As the outcasts of Saks High, they found great pleasure in being contrary. Since the Christians were always talking about devil worshippers and cults, they decided to start a cult of their own. The stuffed talking bear was the most absurd icon they could think of to worship. They scrawled “Teddy Ruxpin Rules” all over school, on desks, cafeteria tables, their lockers and the bathroom walls. There were slight variations, such as, “Teddy Ruxpin Is God,” “All Hail Teddy Ruxpin,” or “Teddy Ruxpin Is My Savior.” But the message was always the same. They knew it was stupid, but it alleviated the boredom. And it pissed off the Christians. So that made it worthwhile.

— from A Masque of Infamy & Piltdownlad No. 8.5 – The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin (the zine)

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