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Profiles in Degeneracy

Bill and I recently knocked down a bunch of wasps' nests around my house, and I posted the following to social media:

Some folks laughed, and the rest had no idea what I was talking about. I got a few questions about it, and I realized that I never really talked about this in public, or at least not widely, so here it is. It's a very strange story.

In late May of 2010, I was in the now-defunct Austin location of the now-defunct Domy Books, which was run by my old Houston friend Russell. Domy was an amazing place, half art-gallery, half art-bookstore. I fell in love with the Houston location when we lived in Houston, and then was delighted when they opened another store in Austin. They had all the best zines, all the best art-books, all the best local and crazy art. It was great. The Austin location has been subsumed by Farewell Books, which continues the tradition, and still does amazing things.

But now I'm getting sidetracked.

Russell had told me that there were some great new zines, and I'm a giant 'zine nerd (obviously). I was flipping through them, and pulled out some great stuff. Give Up had put out a new 'zine, and King-Cat had put one out since I'd last been there, and I was piling up a small stack. Then something strange and unexplained happened.

I've had a small handful of genuinely supernatural or inexplicable things happen to me. I saw a man when I was six in Albuquerque who had to be dead, and yet he was walking through a vacant lot. The eyes of a bust in Davenport in 1987 briefly flashed red. I had an important dream in 2012 that came true (and, more importantly, gave me time to prepare).

In May of 2010, in Domy Books, I flipped through the box of 'zines. I got to the end. I saw the empty end of the box. Then, there was a strange flash, and the smell of ozone, and I got an electric shock in the knuckles of my right hand (the hand touching the box). Then, a small book appeared out of nowhere in the previously-empty spot in the box.

Profiles in Degeneracy Auction Catalog, Summer 2010.

At this time, I'd already been subscribed to a Hollywood memorabilia auction catalog, so I knew exactly what it was-- a small-run book, advertising the particular lots that would be auctioned off at a future date, usually accompanied by photos and short descriptions. Except instead of autographs, props, and movie posters, this auction catalog was full of memorabilia of an entirely different kind-- gruesome, horrifying, disturbing, titillating. The title was apt-- these were accoutrements to some of the most degenerate events, actions, and people I'd ever seen.

So, of course, I was intrigued. I asked Russell about it, and he said he'd never seen it before, and it wasn't anything Domy was selling. So I took it home with me without paying for it.

Once I got home, I discovered something even more bizarre. The memorabilia had titles, descriptions, and photographs regarding people, places and things I was familiar with-- but in an entirely different context. This auction catalog had appeared wholesale from an alternate dimension. In the world where this auction catalog was created, Dan Quayle was not the 44th Vice President of the United States, but a serial-killing taxidermist from Indianapolis (taxidermied raccoon with human teeth and hands sourced from his victims, estimated value $85,000). Ray Kroc was still the founder of McDonald's, but in this dimension he was also accomplice to Ed Gein, who contributed to the initial McDonald's franchise cookbook, before they were both arrested and executed in Milwaukee in 1974. (One of ten extant copies of that cookbook, est. value $300,000.) John Wayne Gacy was still John Wayne Gacy (Pogo the Clown Painting, $2800.)

And Wolf Blitzer... well I'll just share the relevant two-page spread with you.

Warning for the upcoming material, in case in wasn't clear already: this is Not Safe For Work.

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