Robots Anonymous

by Count Zero

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1.
Roach Motel 06:17
ROACH MOTEL Mr. Pennycounter, tell me what’s the matter. Is that my candy wrapper stuck inside your gutter? Your eyes are getting redder. Your cheeks are bulging fatter. I’d help, but I’m no climber, and it’s you who owns the ladder. Inside my roach motel, I’m a martyr for you. And since I don’t fare as well, you say it’s harder for you. Inside my roach motel, I’m a martyr for you. And when I don’t fare as well, that makes it harder... Mr. Pennycounter, sorry for the clutter. I’ll hop aboard my scooter and head back to my trailer, I’ll come back in an instant with some disinfectant to spray upon your poodle. (He’s sick because I touched him.) Inside my roach motel, I’m a martyr for you. And since I don’t fare as well, it makes it harder for you.
2.
Bachelor #3 04:54
BACHELOR #3 Cast of Players: CONTESTANT, a young bachelorette (dressed as Mary Magdalene, concubine) BACHELOR #3, a cocky young male (poss. dressed as Jesus the Nazarene, age 33 1/3) GAME SHOW HOST, mid 40’s white male (cross between Messrs. Wink Martindale/ Alex Trebek/ Chuck Woolery/ Pat Sajak) AUDIENCE, the “chorus,” a Y2K family at home dressed in sweatsuits BACHELORS #1 and #2, done up like Barrabas and the other guy. Settings: Game Show: Calvary Studios, Burbank, year 2000 or 2033 1/3, taping an MTV Dating Game show. Audience: Kitchen of Y2K family, watching TV CONTESTANT Bachelor #3, maybe you’re right for me? Better than #2? BACHELOR #3 Contestant, my source of pride is I’m point-oh-nine microns wide, and built RAM tough! with racing trim! I’m one-tenth micron more than him! CONTESTANT Bachelor #3, rape me! A sight to see! Make me your bride-to-be! BACHELOR #3 Well, I’m the first in history to be the follower of ME! See, my strengths count while his are void. In time I’ll have his kind destroyed! GAME SHOW HOST (disgusted, to Bachelor #3 off-camera during commercial) Five million cameras testify to truths your stubborn heads defy: Your blips leave little resonance. Your actions have no consequence. Your opinions have no weight beyond the air your pierced tongue spits them on! Soon you’ll join us, with your father, in a chorus of “Why Bother?” AUDIENCE (during same commercial, enamored with Bachelor #3’s cockiness) That #3 will only love his shadow! So loud and brash he’ll sure be double-plus good! Kids, turn him up, yeah! Violences assert you, or something like that. Honey, pass the tastebuds. CONTESTANT (flashback and flash-forward) Daddy says it’s time to see who could be the match for me. And in my dream home, #3 is plugging in my screen. The picture’s so pristine, like our happy family. AUDIENCE That #3’s the promise of new breed! He’ll caulk her hairlines, make us wanna breed rich! Kids, can’t you listen, stop biting eachother, stop screaming! Honey, can’t we change the channel?! (channel is changed to VH-1 Behind the Music w/Mssr. Frampton) CONTESTANT Daddy says it’s time to see who could be the man for me. And in my dream home Mr. 3 is on ev’ry magazine with his teeth and hair so clean. We’re one happy fat machine. Bachelor #3! Bachelor #3! Bachelor #3!
3.
Moon 69 05:58
MOON 69 We got the Moon, it’s ours for the taking We got the Moon, it’s in our hands Look at the Moon, there’s Armstrong-a-leaping He got the Moon, and he’s our man. Send our love to Russia Sympathy? Not much. Tell Brezhnev and his brethren: “We think you’re out of touch.” Big deal, you threw a boomerang, Laika, puppy in the sky. But our silver capsule landed. Man has never been so high. The moon is heaven’s eye. It looks so very small from here, but it’s really quite a trip. It always seemed impossible got to move at quite a clip. Say Hello to the Future though he’s a bit behind the times. They scheduled him for yesterday, now he’s finally arrived. (This transmission is coming to you from the moon.) Bailey tossed a rope around, now NASA reels it in. But old folks say they staged it on a backlot of MGM. Move over, Mr. President, No ticker-tape for you. These boys been lunar after all, man that golf ball really flew. We heave hallelujahs hell-high to the moon-eyed sky. The moon is heaven’s eye.
4.
Starry Skies 04:59
STARRY SKIES You’ve lost again Ten out of ten Your talent tries... who’ll recognize? You win the truth: You’ve lost your youth For the big time there’s little time... Stop sinking! Take a breath! Stop thinking “This is death!” Clear that mascara that embarra- singly dries on your sorry eyes Answer each cattle call Sing them each “Satin Doll” Regard all catcalls as just small pratfalls on your rise to the starry skies You fear your friends You’re near the end Nothing to trust But girl, you must... Stop sinking! Take a breath! Nothing can kill like death! Clear that mascara that embarra- singly dries on your sorry eyes Answer each cattle call Sing them each “Satin Doll” Regard all catcalls as just small pratfalls on your rise to the starry skies
5.
Sham-Maker 03:40
SHAM-MAKER Can’t keep gettin screened by your Thought Police Can’t live my life doin as you please Can’t have a voice, have a choice! Won’t see your face and ever rejoice Won’t shake your hand in your Rolls-a-Royce Won’t catch the fleas carryin your disease! I wore all the suits of your biologies I bore all the fruits of your theologies I cooled down the rods of your ecologies What does it take til you acknowledge these? Back to the wall, Sham-Maker! Can’t fool us all, Sham-Maker! Can’t beat myself to death with a wet rat Can’t live my life watchin you get fat Can’t sleep, all wet from sour sweat! Won’t just forget you cloaked me in debt Won’t kiss yer ass and thats a threat Won’t lay down flat I aint your welcome mat! I taught all the tots your tautologies I bought all your botched ideologies I sung to the gods your doxologies Well, here I come looking for apologies! Back to the wall, Sham-Maker! Can’t fool us all, Sham-Maker! (He walks no walks but he talks the talks) Back to the wall, Sham-Maker! Can’t fool us all, Sham-Maker! (1992)
6.
Out There 04:50
OUT THERE Where’s my quill? Where’s my satchel bag? Make haste! Clouds are soon to eat the moon! Heavens! How will I write? A star just bloomed and sent my muse a tune. Curse this broken quill! When will the stars send us ships full of gifts? They’ve room for us all With wheels & wings of fire they’ll save us from ourselves Quick, it’s hell down here Out There---is at the light only the Silent see. Out There---is always where you can never be. Boot my pager up and read the ads: ‘Secretaries, too, can Meet the Sun!’ ‘Son of Man Seeks Lass’ Press return and punch the password in locked on log-on, the signal’s jammed Users keep clogging lines. there’s space for us all past where we’ve gone where we shall overflow, overthrow, and outgrow Out There---is that light only the Silent see Out There---is always where you can never be Out There---is so designed to let your mind go free Out There---is always where you can never be out there is: Paradise, not parasites Holidays, not squalid days Out there, no proselytizing Pharisee will dowse your works in kerosene to sterilize your heresy. Out there, no one imagines God’s complaints, and thus commands that sacred paints be used to clothe your naked saints. Out There---is that light only the Silent see Out There---is always where you can never be Out There---if so inclined you’ll let your mind go free Out There---is always where you can never be (november 1997)
7.
Good News 05:26
GOOD NEWS Good news is not news to you, not without evil, or pain. Well, watch out before your life seeps itself right down the drain. Soon you'll be a bloodless soul--- bitter tears is all you'll sweat--- groaning over what you got; sad for what you'll never get. Kvetch, bitch, and complain all day. God forbid Life runs its course! You can't hope without regret. You don't dream without remorse. If you only knew your lot, how it stands in space and time, you'd be glad for what you got. You'd see good news ain't no crime. Amplify trivial events just to win the pity game. Shape frustrating incidents so there's someone you can blame. Call bearers of all offense some banal, derisive name. Hate can make such simple sense: Those different from you are all the same. No news is good news no more. It's all part of their grand plan; Broadcasting "Killers Roam the Streets!" helps you fear your fellow man. That way you will never dare harvesting a common ground, joining forces with his flock, building louder powers with Love's Sound.
8.
Indulgences 04:14
INDULGENCES And Li’l John says, “Please, Father, tell the Lord that I’m regretful for my Sins.” And as the bells peal, he begins to drain his pockets into bins. Says, as he makes his offerings, “As soon as Coin in Coffer rings, Dear Mothers Soul to Heaven springs!” He interjects, “Please, if I may, take just a moment here to say I’m so inspired by the way Our Lord has promised You more Land! Your fine Cathedrals stand so grand! Your Holy Jewels glow on Your Hand! And unless,” he reflects, as his good conscience squirms, “I request to ingest a steady Diet of Worms, I had best do my best to better come to terms with Your Indulgences.” And dull John says, “will the owner of a Ford who left their lights on, could you please go turn them off?” You blink and freeze, and in the pew you clink your keys because you up and plum forgot just which of your five cars you brought...Oh, good, that’s not yours in the lot. And you get on your knees and pray that your new hair dye hides the gray and that your stocks perform okay. You don’t come here to question truth. You just need this confession booth to relive your low-pressure youth. Ask the priest where he got the fabric for his vestment. Now he knows you think God is just a smart investment. So your soul is all flawed. Surprise! Another testament to your indulgences. (1996)
9.
Finnegan 06:24
10.
goGoGO! 04:34
goGoGO come on down to the Bikini Machine where the Teacher DJ spins the hits so clean you can dance or just make the scene and there’s no live bands punchin’ fists through your screen it’s a gas it’s a package deal they’re lining up at the bar little racks of veal it’s a blast where all the world’s a show where the boys can’t stop watchin girls go go-go Go! Go, go go-go, Go! They’ve got no need to earn They’ve got money to burn They’ve got boobs on the brain Jesus Christ! They’re insane! They get numb when they smile They get KUMM on your dial They get Karl on your marks ready set go! They bitch behind your back They’d kill their family for crack (They’d kill their family for crack? Allright, crack!) They get chills through their toes When the blue light glows They put pills through their nose From the get-go. come on down to the Bikini Machine where the Robo-DJ spins for euro-teens champagne spills on imperial jeans daddy ‘s check get cashed meet the Kitten Queens: Tina was 14 when she married a prince she had twins in Spain she aint seen em since Danielle was 12 when she got hooked on blow now she wiggle when she walk but she giggle when she go go GO Go! Go, go go-go, Go! They’ve got no need to learn They’ve got money to burn They’ve got tubes in the vein Jesus Christ! They’re insane! They get numb when they smile They get come on your dial They get Karl on your marks ready set go! They bitch behind your back They’d kill their family for crack They get the world on a plate but it’s a dish they hate They hear my tongue like a gun Tell them how wise they are: “We’re seven years from the sun I guess that makes you the star.” (1998)
11.
CURE OF A KISS I walk into this party half out of steam, half in a dream. “Have fun,” she’d said, “You might as well be dead for all I know.” No one was gonna see the hole from the heaven she stole out of me. The talk we just had about her handsome new prince left a taste in my mouth that requires a rinse. So I sneak down a pint of my Victory Gin. I take some cues from the news and I spit out a spin. While my soapbox is latherin’ from the words I say, well, the folks start a-gatherin’ around. And they stay while I preach of maggots and their mad masquerade, and make everyone fret about the mess that they’ve made. And once every crime has been exhumed and displayed, I notice they all look ill, and just as dismayed as me. We’ve all lost hope in Hope itself. Meanwhile, Beauty’s gone to bathe in the pond. She’s wading shoulder-deep in the mist, flirting with a frog on a frond. He’s waited all his life just for this ---waited for the wave of a wand, waited for the cure of a kiss. St. N____ comes to the party with a vision to recount, rushing from the mount. He storms in, fresh off it, with the fervor of a prophet. Tears flow off his cheek. He’s got turds for the wicked and words for the weak: He says, “The Meek shall inherit some bald, sick prize!” But the clock pickpockets the cause from his eyes, and he voids his venom about six minutes in. ‘Til he finds us a demon, and calls the loss Sin, which brings back the fire to his cheeks and his chin. We brand him “Messiah,” tossin’ tips in his tin, ‘til two hours later we’re converted, convinced. We’ve survived his cycle some sixty-six times since. And each time we hanker for that first wave of bliss, that rush, that sui generis, that primal pure kiss... ...but in the end, we just lose hope in Hope itself. Meanwhile, Beauty’s gone to bathe in the pond. She’s wading shoulder-deep in the mist, flirting with a frog on a frond. He’s waited all his life just for this ---waited for the wave of a wand, waited for the cure of a kiss. I stumble through the party, half-hearing blurbs, half-hearing her. “Have fun,” she’d said. “You seem so removed, remote, you might as well be dead, for all I care.” It was all she wrote. It was all I read.

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released January 1, 2001

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Count Zero Boston, Massachusetts

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