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Street Conversations: Jesus, Again.





Jesus, Again.



Tell me something about yourself?


Why?

‘Cause.


Can I argue with that reasoning?

Why, you afraid?


It’s just kind of an odd thing to be asked like that.

I don’t know you well.


I’m not sure how to respond to that.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s why we’re on this date and just had dinner.

Still, all up, I’ve only spent eight hours with you, including tonight. I’m now thinking there could be a second date, but is that such a good idea with a guy I hardly know?

So I want to know something.


Wow.



That’s pressure.


Really?


Yeah.

I mean, now I’m thinking I have to come up with something interesting. Something first date interesting. It’s like I have to write that perfect opening line to a novel, and somehow be able to capture everything I want you to know about me in it.

What if I tell you I don’t like Aldous Huxley?

What will that mean?

Will you take it to mean I have a thing against drugs, or I don’t like literature, or even that I am against cloning?

Any choice I make is layered with meaning and I’m now left with having to find a hook that will not just make you think of a second date, but will be so fantastic that it will actually make you think,
"I want to sleep with him."

When you put it like that, it is a bit of pressure.


Exactly.

I can help with that.


Yeah?

I’m not going to sleep with you.


You’re not?

No.


Wasn’t dinner nice?

Sure, but you know—it was just dinner. I don’t decide to sleep with a guy just based on Thai dinner. I’m not that shallow.


That’s very admirable.

Thank you.

Some of the pressure off now?


No.

No?


Well, now I’m worried if the joke about sleeping with you means you think I’m just after a good time and that I’m not really serious.

Are you trying to tell me you’re neurotic?


Will that count?

No.


Then I guess not.



Okay.

Right…


I’m waiting.


I dress up like Jesus on a weekly basis.

You dress up like Jesus?


Yes.

On a weekly basis?


Sometimes twice a week.

What do you do?


Stuff.

You know. Just…


Stuff?


Yeah.

Are you—are you making this up?


No. I seriously dress up like Jesus.

Are you religious?


No.



Yes?

… I don’t know what to think.


This is—this—are you really telling me the truth?


Totally.

Why do you dress up like Jesus?


It’s funny.

It’s funny?


Yeah.

Do you have a thing against religion?


No.

It’s just funny.

You should see the look on the faces of people when you pass them. They’re amazed. They can’t understand it. For a moment, you can actually see them asking,
“Is the Second Coming taking place in the car park?”

You do this in public?


It’s just kind of sad to do it in your own living room.

I’m having trouble understanding this.


It’s just—look, religion is so serious.

It’s humourless.

Think about it: each year, we celebrate what is essentially Zombie Jesus day. The Nation stops for it. Everyone—even if they don’t celebrate it—is aware of it. I mean, isn’t that just weird when you think about it? We’re all celebrating the day Jesus became part of the undead.

Yet, I’ve never heard a Cardinal or Bishop say,
“Hello children, who’s here for Zombie Jesus?”

Because it would be sacrilegious?


That’s just my point. For them it’d be—it’d be this big offense. It’s all so serious. You can’t make fun of Zombie Jesus.

But the dude rose from the dead!

There’s no denying that in the mythology. There’s a serious level of undeadness going on there. Would it hurt just to make a joke every now and then? Just a little bit of a self-depreciating humour to show that not everything is such a serious event.


So… Your theory is that the problem with religion is that it’s too serious?


No. That’s it’s humourless.

Zombie Jesus day is just such a serious thing—


What about the chocolate eggs?


The eggs are hugely seriously! It’s big business serious!

This is getting weird.


No—No, I’m serious.

No. I mean, I know.

Just, nevermind.

Keep going.


Okay. I was going to point out how it’s Zombie Jesus prayer time and Rome rolls the Pope out. The guy must be, like, a hundred and eighty and needs people to attach bags to him so he can go to the toilet, and they roll him out.

They do this because he’s the Pope. He’s got to be there.

It’s so important that he be there that even though he’s got this thing in his throat and he can’t speak, they put him in the window and they let him give a blessing.


Yeah, I saw that.


He croaked out this thing. It’s was painful to watch.


Totally. It was like he was just going through the motions after years and years of doing it. There was no thought in it at all.

But that’s not what’s just messed up about it. What’s even crazier are the images of young women crying. They bow their heads and are moved by his presence and say things like,
“You could feel a ripple move through the crowd.”

They’re so serious about the ritual that they don’t want it disturbed so they’re all going to ignore the fact that this man is seriously ill. That he needs serious caring and that he shouldn’t be used as the figurehead mask to be swapped from Cardinal to Cardinal so they can keep their power.

I don’t get it. I thought you wanted them to be funny? It sounds like you want something else.


It’s all connected.

See, publicly, there’s only one way to take religion, and that’s seriously. You’re either seriously for it, or seriously against it, or seriously don’t give a shit. Whatever it is, you’re serious about it. It’s never about Zombie Jesus and people making films called Zombie Jesus, Kung Fu Master!

Which is the side we should see, but we don’t because people would be seriously against it. Religion has to be seriously important and thus we all deal with it like that. How else could a film like Passion of the Christ be made?


How does that relate to the Pope?


Well, if you’re not so fanatical about it, I reckon you kind of notice that he’s just an old man, dying slowly.

Once you notice that, you question stuff.


I don’t believe this.


What?

This. You.

You’ve read my blog, haven’t you?


You have a blog?

I have a blog and you’ve read it.


I—I didn’t even know you had a blog.

Why would you keep one?


So I can rant on it. So I can rant about things like the Pope and how he’s just a dying on man, and that’s that.


That’s what you write?

Yes.


I haven’t read it.

Are you lying?


Hey, I just admitted that I dress up like Jesus. I think I deserve some slack cut here.

I hate liars.

If you’re lying, this is so not going to work out.

My last boy was a chronic liar. He lied so much that I didn’t even know the true colour of his hair. It’s a sickness.


I’m—why, why would I lie?

I don’t know.

But I’m just telling you, I got hurt the last time.

I found out he had a whole second life selling drugs and having unprotected sex and it was—it was not something I appreciated, to be polite. It hurt. I’ve avoided relationships and guys for a while since that, so if you’re lying, if you’ve been reading my blog and this is just some sick way to score…


You won’t be happy.

No.


I’m not lying.



I assure you. I had no idea. It was just—just one of those things.



Promise.

Fuck.


What?

I don’t know.

I just don’t know.


Hey…

That’s a second date, right?







(Street Conversations is an eight week project of prose and photography. Jesus, Again is part seven. It's been written to compliment part two, Jesus. If you haven't read part two, do the click, and you'll get a little extra something. Anyhow, previous weeks have been Wires, Words for Friends, Love, Hate, and Gifts for Strangers. One week left. How will it all end?)

Comments

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capnoblivious
Mar. 30th, 2005 01:36 am (UTC)
I like this stuff, Ben.
benpeek
Mar. 30th, 2005 01:49 am (UTC)
thanks, man.
capnoblivious
Mar. 30th, 2005 01:56 am (UTC)
'course, you pipped me on writing a Zombie Jesus post. Serves me right for waiting so long after Easter. :)
benpeek
Mar. 30th, 2005 02:02 am (UTC)
you shouldn't save the blog posts. they're a five second spark--throw them out and see how they go. if you wait, someone else will nick it :)
capnoblivious
Mar. 30th, 2005 02:04 am (UTC)
I live, I learn. :)
jlundberg
Mar. 30th, 2005 02:00 am (UTC)
I really like this series, Ben. The all-dialogue format is intriguing, and you do a great job with the situation, especially when you can't use description. You should try to collect all these in a chapbook or something.
benpeek
Mar. 30th, 2005 02:08 am (UTC)
yeah, i've been pretty pleased with how they've been recieved. in the last couple of weeks i've thought about getting them into a tiny chapbook, but i've no idea who to approach for them, really. in addition, i haven't quite figured a way to take the photos to a chapbook format. they're cool here, but once you move them to a solid product, you run into questions of cost--having colour photographs would likely push up the cost so it would be unreasonable.

to keep it down, i'd probably find a cartoonist, to give those slice of life comic feel to it. someone with the adrian tomme style, or something like that.

at least in theory.
minus9
Mar. 30th, 2005 06:58 am (UTC)
You could start with just turning the lot into a PDF. Electronic chap book, print it yourself -- one step or two up from blog entries :-)

It'd make a good website too, and http://www.streetconversations.com/ is still available... That would be a rather nice artifact actually.

R
benpeek
Mar. 30th, 2005 07:57 am (UTC)

i'm a bit naturally resistent to the idea of making a second website, since the idea was to do them on the blog. if it were to go beyond this blog and into something else (and that's a big if--it's not exactly like i have plans for it or that i've gotten any offers) i'd like for it to be a hardcopy product, just cause i like that idea more. people could still read them, naturally, on the blog for free, so it wouldn't be something i'd do for the cash--and indeed, i suspect any cash i could make out of it would be sunk right back into the publisher and artist, if there was one.

however, outside that, the DIY web/pdf file idea raises a whole lot of problems due to my plain inability to design websites and nice looking pdf files. it'd be a whole lot of effort to get that up--the same effort, i imagine, in getting a hardcopy product.
minus9
Mar. 30th, 2005 08:33 am (UTC)
I guess I see them as creative artifacts that deserve a showing outside the frame of the blog, due to the impact the have on the readers.

With things like that, putting enough out there shows people that you can do this sort of stuff, and that's where your value is -- not in a couple of things you've made along the way. Don't over-value what you make and under-value yourself.

Web/pdf creation isn't real hard given you've got them already beautifully worked up. I'd just use what you have -- imagine these stories without the sidebar, etc. They don't need any further design skills. They're all story!

But I don't want to seem pushy or anything. I've enjoyed what you've shared with us, and thank you for that!

R
benpeek
Mar. 30th, 2005 01:09 pm (UTC)
well, we'll see how they're going after next week and if decisionsned to be mae then. i've got another week left, after all.
ironed_orchid
Mar. 30th, 2005 02:30 am (UTC)
I really love this one.

Have to ask, have you ever read The Last Days of Christ the Vampire?
benpeek
Mar. 30th, 2005 02:34 am (UTC)
heh. no. i didn't even know such a book existed. is it has wonderfully bad as the title suggests?
ironed_orchid
Mar. 30th, 2005 02:49 am (UTC)
It's brilliantly bad, but possibly not in the way you expect: it's a thinly disguised anarchist pamphlet set in the Reagan Era. Chapter One is online.

There's even a graphic novel - which I haven't read yet.
benpeek
Mar. 30th, 2005 03:24 am (UTC)
wow.

i don't reckon i could read that whole thing, though. it's not exactly well written.
ironed_orchid
Mar. 30th, 2005 03:30 am (UTC)
No, it's pretty bad. But the ideas... well the ideas have merit. And of course the Jesus=undead thing was just a connection waiting to be made. I think it's even in a Wes Craven film.
benpeek
Mar. 30th, 2005 03:33 am (UTC)
oh, i'm sure there's a huge subculture of jesus undead literature. i'm also sure it's awful, much like other jesus literature.
studebakerhawk
Mar. 30th, 2005 10:40 pm (UTC)
I just realised Battlestar Galactica (at least the original one with Lorne Green) was essentially Mormons in space. And HGWELLS Time Machine was vehemently anti-hippie, though i doubt he meant it that way. Read it back.

I don't know where that came from. I really liked this one, though. Zombie Jesus. Fantastic. Make the chocolates, Ben.
benpeek
Mar. 31st, 2005 12:43 am (UTC)
yeah, i've heard that about battlestar. i've never seen enough of it to say, however, but it seems quite wildly known. my friend was telling me the same thing on sunday.

and i'm glad you liked it.
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