Dear Dirty America Reality Tour pt 1: The Silent Fan Reaches Out
ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
The air was stuffy in my parents’ porch as I waited for one of my biggest fans to arrive on the farm. It was after midnight, and I was about ready to call the whole thing off. The bare bulbs overhead drew out an eerie yellow pale from the old wooden walls, which is why I felt jaundiced when I looked at my arms.
Why was I so nervous? Isn’t meeting fans what being a celebrity is all about? And isn’t trying to be a celebrity what modern American living is all about?
My brother had given me the idea to start the Dear Dirty America Reality Tour for fans of the website and the stories that have gone viral over the years.
“What do you mean, a reality tour?” I’d asked him in a stern voice. I was hesitant to start new projects, especially when the world seemed to be coming apart and the stock market kept blasting up and plunging back week after week, and the TSA was ramping up their explosives-testing on regular-joe citizens from North Dakota, and the latest reports out of Arizona were telling us ISIS was on the march through Mexico and ready to light a fire in the US.
“What good is it to whip together a little money-making scheme off of my very mild success as a writer?” I asked him. “Doesn’t it seem premature to kick off a creative business when every news story and website is telling us to keep our heads ducked and covered for the unforeseeable future?”
“What are you saying?” my brother asked. “When ape men like Donald Trump and Jeb Bush can be multi-millionaires and billionaires in this world, why can’t we, who have actually read serious books and studied serious topics, not make a decent paycheck and secure financial freedom like we deserve? Besides, it’s how the new economy works.”
I had to agree. So I contacted my most sincere Dear Dirty America fan. A North Dakota man I will describe loosely, so as not to draw attention to his real person.
I will not mention his name, although I’d like to. He’s a close reader of DDA, but I’d never met him before. Never did he comment on my work. He was what I call a ‘stealth fan’ and a ‘secret reader’ who stays in the wings and absorbs what I write with a hunger and a thirst more commonly seen in rail thin opium addicts crouched in their own puddles of urine on the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
How had my writing become sustenance for another’s soul? How had my words become the meat and potatoes and the fine filtered water for the mind that had nourished this family man from North Dakota? And why did he seem ashamed to announce it publicly to draw more publicity for me, the cherished and treasured writer? Was he worried I would become a national figure and lose my luster?
I would seek answers when he arrived.
I’ve had many fans in my short tenure as an online writer. I’d shifted from writing novels in notebooks with cheap pens from the grocery store to ripping out articles online. First I’d published pieces on a site called Associated Content. AC was later purchased by Yahoo! (the trailer trash of the web) and they called it Voices. Later, Yahoo! purged our amateur articles like my ancestors burned heaps of blankets and clothes and every loose stitch of fabric as they tried to get rid of the plague.
The more inflammatory the writing, the more love and hate I received from readers. After a short but popular run of liberal-minded articles, my writing became twisted and satisfying only to myself. Readership dropped to a few silent, hardcore fans. Which is how I like it.
These days, most of my readership base happens to be in North Korea. Beyond the flat brick walls of coffin-sized apartment housing and brutalist architecture, my stories are passed along with fervor. In the Hermit Kingdom, nobody likes the gross materialism of the American Empire, and so my articles do quite well there (except for the ones with overt tones of spirituality).
There’s no time for religion and spirituality in North Korea. Not when there’s rice to harvest and nuclear weapons to be tested. The commonality between us and them is what appears to be a stuffy era of cynicism and tainted hope that seems to merge into a sordid understanding between the poorest, humblest citizens of both countries.
I’ve had a few fans in California as well, where most of my stories are based. The Golden State fans come and go, here and there, but usually they want something in return. It’s just big city politics. California is a gold digger’s state. Gold takes many forms, and today it is electronically mined out of computer code. Most people have lost the strength and energy to swing a pick into the side of a rocky mountain, so they chip away online, searching for shiny nuggets.
But my best fan happens to be my least visible one. He comes from a farm in North Dakota. The only reason I found out about him was an email he sent me at 8.03 in the morning. The email was one line, and of such a practical nature I realized my fans have hearts and minds very similar to myself.
“Recently you mentioned in an article that you had a computer guy
fix a hack on your website…
what was his name, and how much does he charge?”
Naturally, this fan was the obvious one to reach out to in finding my first participant for the reality tour.
How did I know he was a close and careful reader? Because I’d implanted a single line in the penultimate paragraph in an article about a topic least likely to be read by anybody but a rabid fan. And he’d caught it. A simple sentence about trying to fortify my electronic walls with the strength and endurance by which Constantinople repelled legions of barbarians and armies from its heavy, wooden doors.
I told him the name of my computer guy, and then I asked him,
“Would you like to join me in North Dakota for a summer reality tour? For a low price I would walk you through the grueling patrol my brother and I made to thwart the coyotes that we’d long suspected had been eating our cats. The patrol was made famous in the Call of the Yeti story, part II. As I’m sure you know.”
My North Dakota fan responded politely, “What is a low price?”
I wrote back in the kind of tight-lipped style I thought he would appreciate, “Anything that’s not considered high.”
Then I added another line, “So bring a wad of cash and we’ll haggle on the spot.”
We made the arrangement for seven minutes past midnight, on my parent’s farm, and I reserved my younger brother as a guide, as he was the first one to start the coyote patrol last winter, and he’d maintained it all through the spring and summer while I was in California teaching English classes and trying to avoid all the assholes and gangsters.
Here’s some knowledge for you: Not all assholes are gangsters and not all gangsters are assholes, which is one reason why life is so confusing.
I drew in a deep, warm breath. A pair of headlights swung over the green grass. The gravel crunched beneath tires. And so it would begin: The Dear Dirty Reality Tour, part 1.
TO BE CONTINUED….
[cat reader photo from Dreysacz]