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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Chris Dankland presents … excerpts from The Ten Thousand

Hello !!

As a long term side project, I’ve started writing a book called The Ten Thousand. My goal for this project is to write ten thousand picture stories that I’ll share regularly on social media. So far I’ve written more than five hundred stories. I predict that it’ll take me between five and ten years to complete this project. The photographs I use are found wherever I can get them. All of the stories are 140 characters or less.

I chose to write ten thousand stories because “the ten thousand things” is an ancient Buddhist expression which means “everything that exists in this world.” I also figure that if I do something thousands of times, I’ll get really good at it.

In this blog post I’ve picked some of my favorite stories from the book. I like them a lot and I hope you enjoy them too. If you do, please take a moment to follow me on:

 

 
 

 

thanks !!

 

 



(11) Zo draped her house in blankets and played silent air guitar in the living room for weeks like someone screaming on the moon.

 

 

 



(25) Bobby and Loraine jumped off a bridge in 1962. Being a ghost seemed like more fun than being a kid.

 

 

 



(27) Henry Zapo wept continually for this passing unrepeatable world, taking 400 pictures a day, tears blurring the lens.

 

 

 



(36) Molly Vollo owned 400 wigs, one for each day, to hide the naked skull that kept her troubled mind.

 

 

 



(40) When Cecelia Pinn turned 17 she recorded 900 punk songs in a year, gave all the cassettes to Goodwill, and cut her throat.

 

 

 



(55) The Bruja sisters found a decapitated head in the woods who told them of the outer gates where all the fires sing.

 

 

 



(57) Jimbo held his cigarette aloft and watched it burn like a sun, the only bright spot in his galaxy of nothing.

 

 

 



(59) Jeb and Deb were tanning bed freaks. They liked to eat dinner naked, muscle juice dripping from their exhausted golden skin.

 

 

 



(63) Katy Kinkong was the deadliest girl in Houston. Men desperately threw themselves at her like jumpers embracing cement.

 

 

 



(71) Every year, the spirit of the season filled Kenny Christmas so completely that he swelled up three times bigger.

 

 

 



(87) Men’s eyes stuck to her like slime on a slug, but when approached she only burped and said: My heart belongs to Jesus.

 

 

 



(95) Roy Orbison planted his mind behind impenetrable sunglasses, kissed cigarettes all night, and smirked at every singer.

 

 

 



(105) Cherry was the wild unwanted one: slurring, drunk, and screaming, with an ever wounded heart and a trail of bad reviews.

 

 

 



(123) Sissy woke up like something dredged from the deep sea bottom. She snorted a pill and a heavy wave pushed over her, sending her back.

 

 

 



(134) As her husband yakked, she turned her head to stare at the disgusting mutants who filled the convention hall, gulping down air like pigs.

 

 

 



(137) Squid could suck his own dick. He huffed paint and punched himself in the head and howled at night. He died at 23 and that’s how he’ll always be.

 

 

 



(169) As she got older, she slimmed down to bones and wrinkles. That’s what living does to you, not death. Death makes you bloom again.

 

 

 



(178) Once a week she washed her clothes in a public bathroom, whispering ceaseless praises to God for this beautiful, broken, unrelenting world.

 

 

 



(181) Try as they might, no man could make her fall in love. Her heart was like a howling pack of wolves. Nobody was moon enough.

 

 

 



(197) He was friendly enough when the bottle was still half full, but past that he only got meaner. By the last swallow he was Satan.

 

 

 



(199) How does the night speak? With a tongue as quick as a serpent’s and poison under its lips. It says: Soon you will all be with me again.

 

 

 



(218) They don’t have dicks, pussies, lips, eyes, hearts, soft hair. They stick unfeeling bones into empty sockets. Skeleton love.

 

 

 



(234) No More Romance 2017

 

 

 



(246) Give the devil a big wet kiss on the lips.

 

 

 



(248)
after walking every empty street
until the night was done
he washed up at the ocean’s feet
and got drunk with the sun

 

 

 



(256) Jill sat behind her sunglasses, silently dripping. “These bodies are temporary,” she thought. She bit her arm as hard as she could.

 

 

 



(268) The writer loved the idea that some incorporeal form of him could sit in the lap of countless strangers. Intimate for hours, for evenings.

 

 

 



(271) Beyond the edge of the yard was the forest, filled with gaping darkness like an open mouth. He could smell its breath from his bedroom.

 

 

 


(276)
He
stared
down
the
sink’s
dark
hole.


It
was
clogged
with
something
that
smelled
awful.


His
back
hurt.


It’s
going
to
be
a
long 

year. 

 

 

 



(288) They sang ‘Erotic City’ twice, the only song they’d bothered to learn. Then they peed themselves on stage. That’s what it takes to be great.

 

 

 



(293) They stole her parents’ electronics, sold them on ebay, and bought enough bath salts to trip for months. Get your priorities straight.

 

 

 



(298) ‘Wild In the Streets’ blasted through the boombox, winding through six greasy pill-strung brains. All their hairdos nodded in agreement.

 

 

 



(313) Mark rolled 6 feet of pizza dough and stuck it in his pants. “I GOT THE BIGGEST DICK ALIVE! USA! USA!” So they elected him CEO of Dominoes.

 

 

 



(324) The moon shot through the evening like a bullet hole. The moon that had watched our species rise and fall. Yeah yeah yeah. Fuck you too.

 

 

 


(327) Art’s job is to smother your face with a wet stinking pillow called death while tenderly whispering that everything will be okay. 

 

 

 



(359) rEbA kIllEd hErsElf bY crUshIng hEr skUll In wIth hEr bArE hAnds. tHe UnIvErsE InsIdE hEr mInd wAs hOrrIblE. sO shE obIitErAtEd It.

 

 

 



(362) Above a snow wasteland, the florescent used car lot sign shone like a nativity angel. It said unto the world: Hark! Money and garbage forever.

 

 

 



(372) Look through the walls. Do you see the distance all around us? It’s the truth under every beautiful dream.

 

 

 



(379) With luck, one day your name might also become a part of the culture. The culture, the same thing that sells Taco Bell “meat.” Congrats.

 

 

 

 

(388) The dog ran by, its shadow undulating across the broken cement. Two dogs: dog of flesh and dog of nothing.

 

 

 



(396) The best thing about being 100% dreamy is everyone loves your eyes. The worst thing about being 100% dreamy is nobody stays real for long.

 

 

 



(423) Speeding through the summer like a howl in a cave.

 

 

 



(430) The fourth drink told her to relax. The fifth drink muttered jokes in her ear. The sixth drink said nothing matters.

 

 

 



(435) The incomparable joy of occasionally meeting someone else who gets it.

 

 

 



(460) He liked to walk shirtless through the pristinely decorated house his wife had made and spoil its delicacy with cigarette smoke and back hair.

 

 

 



(473) Doing meth is like knowing how happy fires must feel while they burn.

 

 

 

 

(482) For the new American pioneers: the deer slayers, the skyscraper queens, the wizards who tear down wordless skies and fill them with wifi. 

 

 

 

 

(486) Cut a hole in the world and sink into the heartless inhuman dark for awhile. 

 

 

 

 

(492) Holy Mary: Turn us to smoke and breathe us in through soft forgiving lips. Let us worship you. Nothing else in this world is worth it. 

 

 

 

(511) She used to sit in the corner and blow crack smoke into soap bubbles. In fried amazement we’d watch them float through the living room. 

 

 

 

 

(522) Approximately 42% of being an artist seems to involve being willing to publicly embarrass yourself, and the other 58% is acting superior. 

 

 

 

 

(533) Like a black hole, the bar’s gravity was so dense that light couldn’t exist inside it. People stumbled in darkness, holding their drinks tight. 
 

 

*

p.s. Hey. The local portion of your weekend is ultra-set thanks to Chris Dankland’s generosity in sharing pieces of his in-progress ‘The Ten Thousand’ project. A lot of people who hang out around this blog already know what a knock-down, drag-out fantastic writer Chris is, and here’s even more, surprising and very entertaining proof. So, yeah, enjoy and please do say something responsive to Mr. Dankland, won’t you? Thanks, and gratitude heavily to you, Chris. The only other thing I want to say is that we here in France have a Presidential election tomorrow, and any positive thoughts for France-cum-negative thoughts for Marine Le Pen that you feel like holding could only help. Thank you re: that. ** Dynomoose, Hey, big A! I’m certain that Terry, if he’s peeking in from wherever he does his thing these days, is very happy to help. Have a swell weekend! ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Seconded on ‘Dillinger is Dead’ and ‘Daisies’. That Flaubert book looks very, very interesting to me. Thank you a lot for the alert! ** Steevee, Hi. Wow, that’s an interesting and weirdly fruitful way to think about ‘Dillinger …’. Huh, cool. Yes, yes, very interested to read your Beatty-related thoughts and investigation. How did the 7:30 med start time work out? Well, I typed that before seeing your later comment, obviously. Sorry. Huh, I did write something about sleep being fascist, yeah, now that you mention it. I still stand by whatever I wrote, I think. I hope your weekend has a ton of zzz’s and REM in store for you. ** 366 Weird Movies, Hey! How awesome of you to be here! I’m a big fan of your site, as is obviously the post’s maker Terry. I’m sorry about the attribution problem. I’ve corrected everything and added the appropriate credits in the post now. Thank you again for the comment and the really valuable work you do on your site. Have an excellent weekend! ** Kyler, Howdy. Good, sounds like things worked out well enough so far. I hope the avant-garde proved to be a helpful escape when needed. May everything on your end go like clockwork until I get to see you next. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. I haven’t watched ‘The Iron Rose’ in its entirety, only clips, which looked pretty damned good. Whoo-hoo on your 5th driving lesson’s success. Yeah, I saw that about the local elections. Really mixed bag results and kind of ominous, I guess, ugh. I sincerely hope I will be able to speak to you on Monday from a relief-filled post-election Paris. ** Jeff J, Hi, J. Happy to have helped Mr. Ratchett provide again. Yes, I am a fan of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Weiss’s death in 2012 was a great loss. Their retrospective here in Paris about six years ago was a revelation. Their work in general is consistently wonderful, and, if you haven’t seen their classic and amazing video work ‘The Way Things Go’, be sure to. I often find myself asking myself and others why Herzog’s fiction film work went almost completely to shit whereas as his documentaries remain really good and often great. It’s a very, very good question. I mean, his early-to-mid fiction films are as good as fiction films ever get pretty much consistently. I don’t have a clue why. I’ve scoured interviews with him looking for an answer there, and they haven’t provided one either. Very strange. ** Misanthrope, Hi. Interesting. Thank you for sharing the results of your research. Word and phrase genealogy is very interesting stuff to me. I love it when words or terms have their content but are subterraneous puzzles at the same time. One of the earliest SPDs was a bookshelf one. Way, way back. Yeah, I don’t know. I think about reviving the SPD, but there’s something in me that doesn’t want to go there again. Not entirely sure why. ** Okay. Have a great weekend both in the company of Chris Dankland’s wonderful work and elsewhere too. See you on Monday.

26 Comments

  1. Chris Dankland – Enjoyed this today, entertaining and erudite. When will you write a full length book??

    Dennis, Jeff J – I agree about Herzog, except I like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and Rescue Dawn, which I was supposed to be in myself, except I slept in. Into the Inferno is great.

    • chris dankland

      May 8, 2017 at 4:58 am

      thank u !! for the last year i’ve been working on a long book called Space City, and there will be a few shorter books coming out this summer, thanks for asking 🙂

  2. One of Herzog’s recent fiction films, QUEEN OF THE DESERT, played New York for a week, then it was down to one showing a day at 10:30 AM or something. Not that marginality is a surefire sign of lack of quality, but if a new Herzog narrative film came out in the late ’70s, it would be a huge event. I don’t know what happened, but the same thing pretty much happened to Wim Wenders, although I don’t think his docs have hit the same heights as Herzog’s.

    Weirdly, I feel tired all evening, then when I go to bed, I’m hit with, anxiety and insomnia. At least I have been the past two days. I just wrote my doctor a note about this. I’m going back to my earlier dosage/time of taking my medication with dinner, although it pretty much ensures that I have to be home by 10 PM and in bed by 11 PM. Maybe it’ll clear up the hours of anxiety I faced the past two nights once I did get to bed.

  3. Great stuff Chris, remindful of Joe Brainard (there is of course no higher praise)

  4. Chris: “I also figure that if I do something thousands of times, I’ll get really good at it.” That’s funny as hell…but at the same time so smart. I think, in athletics and elsewhere, there is this theory that you have to do something 10,000 times to master it.

    Now for what you’ve got here: do you know how fucking brilliant these are? I really think I could read all 10,000 in one sitting. Hilarious, sad, insightful, and they leave so much to ponder as you leave one and go to the next. The juxtaposition with the photos just adds even more gravity -and hilarity- to them. I found myself looking at the photo, reading your prose about said photo, and then going back to the photo. I rarely laugh out loud when I’m by myself, but I was belly laughing out loud the whole time…while also getting the heaviness of what you were saying. Fucking great stuff, Chris.

    We’ll have to meet in real life sometime.

    Dennis, Yes, I love that shit too. Etymology and the like. Sometimes, I’ll say a word -a rather regular ol’ common word- and suddenly realize, “This fucking thing’s been around forever, and if you break it down, it’s meaning is either so different from its original intent…or quite the opposite, it’s a really meaningful word that’s lost all meaning but shouldn’t have.”

    Hmm, okay, so I missed the bookshelf SPD, hahaha. I think I got here a year or two after you started the blog. I understand where you’re coming from. No biggie. I just like seeing people interacting more sometimes, if that makes any sense. Though I think the format of this new version of the blog allows a lot more of that than the old blogger format. It’s just nice to get to know people a little better.

    • chris dankland

      May 8, 2017 at 5:00 am

      thanks !! i’m so happy u liked them, thanks so much for taking the time to tell me. that encourages me a lot. i feel good that they made u laugh and that the pictures and words meshed together for u. yeah we should hang out sometime !! i’d love that

      thanks again for being so great

  5. Chris, what a great project. Really enjoying what I’ve seen today.

    Fingers crossed on the elections this weekend, Dennis.

    Bill

  6. Chris Dankland, I think this is one of my favorite posts here on Dennis’ blog. The medium that you do your work on, is perfect. Great images and words. A book of these images and words would be fantastic, but going through your Instagram on a daily basis must be magnificent. I just now subscribed to your Instagram and twitter page. Keep it up, and I will visit the old works as well as keeping up with the new ones.

    Herzog as a documentary filmmaker is way more interesting than his ‘fictional’ work. And I think he feels the same way. He’s naturally curious about the world around him, and I think the documentary medium fits his personality and temperament perfectly.

    • But he keeps on making narrative films. I don’t even think they’re making much money, as in the example I cited above.

    • chris dankland

      May 8, 2017 at 5:01 am

      that’s so flattering, thanks for the follow and the kind words !! i thought making a 10,000 page book would break a record but apparently this french book is 13,000 words. but i’m sure i’ll collect them all & publish them as a website or something when i’m done, thanks

  7. D., its your man in Florida. Moved to St. Pete to write ghost stories for Lord Xenu. Already on some big leads. The weathers great. Saw GBV and James Greers band before coming down here. Good stuff. Hows it going? Off to see some art. xo

  8. Dennis, hey from Los Angeles. Thinking of you in what must be a very tense Paris. Hopefully Monday there will be good news about Le Pen’s defeat. Lots of love, Alistair xo
    ps Chris Dankland, these little stories are so great, like little electric shocks, I love them.

  9. Chris, I love the phrase “muscle juice” in #59. It seems like someone must’ve used it before, but I can’t recall having seen it anywhere else.

    • chris dankland

      May 8, 2017 at 5:02 am

      muscle juice !! yeah that’s a good one — i don’t feel like i’ve ever heard the phrase muscle juice be used in any real life situation haha, i’m not sure where i heard it. thanks for reading !!

  10. Dóra Grőber

    May 7, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Hi!

    Excuse my absence on Friday. I kind of got lost in a weird, asocial mood a little. My past few days proved to be the “having plans but then not accomplishing anything” kind of days so I’m trying to get back on track with my usual writing, etc. routine.
    How are you? How was your weekend? What’s the final decision about the editing? Do you have to start right away?
    And about the elections: if I’m correct, the polls close in a bit more than an hour so I still keep my fingers crossed!!
    I hope you had a lovely weekend!

  11. Dennis – so happy the filming went well, very exciting. Glad to have you back.

    Chris – have been following and loving these on IG and feel so lucky to get to continue doing so. More often than not they brighten my mood or add some bit of creative spark to my day. Thank you.

    • chris dankland

      May 8, 2017 at 5:03 am

      thanks so much for reading and liking and being so supportive !! i appreciate it a lot, i’m happy if they add something to yr day

  12. @ Chris, I’m a major fan of these via social media and it’s great to see so many of them here in one place.

    So French state TV projects Macron 65.1% over Le Pen 34.9%, which is a trouncing by anyone’s standards. I’m so happy and relieved that all the 2016 Trump Brexit etc madness has abated. Here’s hoping for a more tolerant, inclusive future if that’s not too much to ask.

  13. Chris – I love these. The way the photos work with the texts is really interesting, another layer to the mini-narratives. So many great turns of phrase throughout, too. Hope you’ll continue to do installments of these here.

    Dennis – Last week, I saw a work-in-progress performance by dancer/writer/performance artist Thomas DeFrantz. It was around concepts of queer theory and very interesting. You familiar with him or his work? I think he was around NYC in the ’80s?

    So relieved to see Le Pen lost, though not as much as you and others there, I’m sure. Nice to have some good news on the geopolitical front for a change.

    Any news yet on your editing schedule?

    • chris dankland

      May 8, 2017 at 5:12 am

      thank u jeff !! frequently i’ll reread the end of Novi Sad where you paired the character descriptions with the blacked out pictures. that section is so beautiful and so well written — i think about those descriptions often, so hearing that u liked the picture stories makes me really happy. thanks !!

  14. chris dankland

    May 8, 2017 at 5:33 am

    hi dennis, just wanted to say thank u again for letting me guest host the blog !! it means a lot to me, sending hugs

    this evening i was reading a little bit about this, sort of looking at outlines of events, and i wonder how would u describe Hollande’s term as president? i seem to remember u being hopeful about him when he got elected, but i guess he’s pretty unpopular right now. in any case, i’m glad Le Pen didn’t win

    hope u have a great morning !! take care

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