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Dicks and Bongs

Dicks and Bongs

by Brandon Edmonds / 31.01.2011

The world is mostly other people’s stuff. Out walking in my neighborhood I came upon some of it. A small Croxley notebook. It is soiled and wrinkled. Someone put a flame to the page edges. As an object it refuses to become mine. Genuinely strange, funny and disturbing. But we’ll get to that. There’s a beautiful short story by John Cheever called “The Seaside Houses”. A family have gone away for the summer. They’ve rented a place on the shore. “You get the sea-rusted keys from the house next door. You unfasten the lock and step into a dark or light hallway, about to begin a vacation – a month that promises to have no worries of any kind. But as strong as or stronger than this pleasant sense of beginnings is the sense of having stepped into the midst of someone else’s life.” The lost notebook does that too. A friend once told me he was leaving the Louvre and happened to look up into the apartments across the street where he saw a beautiful young woman changing. We always seem to be trespassing.

The notebook teems with dicks and bongs. There’s a blue pen-rendered bong on one of the pages, cross-hatched and shaded, fairly precisely delineated. Smoke pours from both openings, at the top of the pipe and out of the bowl itself. Yet no human presence. The bong could be magic and smoking of its own accord or what we see is more likely the aftermath of a hit. Smoke trickles as it does in Rome on the inauguration of a new Pope. Alongside the blue bong is a prior attempt in black. Scribbled over. De-selected. I’m reminded of the final Alien movie when Ripley finds a laboratory with prior versions of herself – hellish, malformed creatures begging her to kill them. The phantom draughtsman wanted to get the likeness of the bong just right. The drawing has the fussed over strain of verisimilitude.

Why draw a bong so lovingly? We might venture to guess who we’re dealing with: a teenager with a vegetable glint, moody and averse to sports, surly with parentals, a boy or girl, there’s a gender-neutral name on one of the pages, Kaylen, prone to closed doors and withholding, a person on their way to the kitchen at midnight with the munchies. From the Cheever story: “I have never known the people from whom we have rented, but their ability to leave behind them a sense of physical and emotional presences is amazing…and who was the woman who painted red enamel on the nails of the claw-footed bathtub? What was this moment in her life?” What will our bong artist think in time about this moment in their life, when they were stirred enough by Kush to commemorate it?

Yin Yang - Dicks and Bongs

On the next page is the wackadoo fallout of all those hits. There’s a sort of sloping corridor drawing with a smiley face character looking right at us and doors with eyes or portals and a horned figure with wings and a bloody axe in its hand. A face, Kaylen, a self-portrait? WTF is written in capitals, confirming our speculative teen hunch. A large veined penis floats at the bottom of the page. A random blouse with buttons and bow, something Daisy Duck might wear. The notebook is an inner record of a powerful herb’s affects. The mindspill of a total stranger. A book of amateur, ugly wonders.

Another horned figure with a tail this time, an X for facial features, and its own erection in hand. A grinning skull on a tiny body suggests familiarity with Tim Burton’s filmography. A smiley face with headphones. An impressive word “tetrahydrocanabind” appears. On its own page is the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol. Enfolded duality. Classic teenage groping for depth.

The centerpiece of the notebook, the showstopper, is “Christ Bong”. It is a blunted kid’s idea of heaven. Mega bong. An insectoid steam punk contraption of conjoined funnels linking multiple bongs, obsessively annotated with the word “weed” 6 times over. It is crowned with a smiley face and the self-admiring epithet “fucked up”. In brackets “Hoooly Shit” – those redundant extra o’s conveying the mind-blowing possibilities of the dream bong. Dead end suburban transcendence.

On another page, the fingers-crossed aspirational legend “smoke weed ‘til my eyes bleed” and the deflated comedown: “Life is so unnecessary”. Oh Kaylen don’t be blue. You have your whole life ahead of you. The Cheever story once more: “Are we truly this close to one another? Must we impose our burden on strangers? And is our sense of the universality of suffering so inescapable?”
Amateur, ugly wonders.

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  1. Jason says:

    Hey, this could be the next Conrad Botes (or Kurt Cobain)!

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  2. Anonymous says:


    pretty much sums it up i think?

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  3. brandon edmonds says:

    pretty much.

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  4. snapper says:

    pretty sure kaylen is a boy – remember who drew all the dicks on the desks in maths class? not the girls

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  5. CB says:

    Good writing, for the sake of good writing, I like it.

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  6. YsterHart says:


    If you have never known girls who drew dicks on things, than your life is poorer for it.

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  7. Thishiwe says:

    The Brandon Edmonds Formula:

    Avoid Human Interaction.
    Take something vicariously attached to your reality making sure you’re not personally involved. Be fascinated by it but not emotionally attached.
    Quote liberally from a classic writers work to elevate your own prose.
    Make a vague and non-committal closing statement.

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  8. Chris says:

    This is a really good piece.

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  9. Bonzio says:

    Love it, first in a series of curated, found art. Why no pictures of the drawings?

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  10. brandon edmonds says:

    Ah I’ve been waiting for the backlash. Thanks for making it so mild and considered @Thishiwe. The pictures above are the actual ones from the notebook with lame Mac photobooth effects.

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  11. the present says:

    loving the lameness of the ‘reproductions’. But I think you should work on part II, where you, totally against your will, find yourself falling head-over-heels in love with this teenager. Part III is The Search (involving a slew of useless therapists and a pert-time detective), part IV The Meeting, where you discover that everything is fake, a setup. Part V is Dead, suicide of the author, and you turn out to be a character written about in a lost notebook, found by a stoned teenager.

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  12. brandon edmonds says:

    Actually there’s a cell number in the notebook. I agonized over including it and ended up minimally respecting “Kaylen’s” privacy (insofar as their notebook is now pored over online). Lost in a stoner’s notebook. It’s like low tech Tron. We should pitch it to Dreamworks.

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  13. Mpho says:


    Thank u for the link. What an interesting blog/mag. Well, one (literally) learns new stuff everyday.

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  14. bahumbuggah says:

    The depraved little wanker belongs on a chain gang.

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