John Hicks

95 Articles
John Hicks

Will some of you stop pretending you’ve never seen pornography on the internet, which connects us all, amen? (I’m contractually obligated to add the phrase “which connects us all, amen” whenever I use the word “internet.” Whether or not the word “internet” should be capitalized is a matter for another day. Today, it is not capitalized. Deal with it.)

I hate neither porn nor the World Wide Waterslide.

I am not a ninny. I am not a mooncalf.

I’m a modern person, not some fuddy-duddy!

Someone hacked Facebook this week and yadda yadda yadda porn.

Here’s a tip: You don’t have to look at the bad, bad porn. You can close that window and go to the site with all the bible verses.

John Hicks

In terms of sheer volume, I peaked as a reader in my 20s.

In those days, I didn’t do much except read. Life was pretty simple. I extended my student years without much effort, drifting along. But always with a book!

As long as I stayed in school, no one seemed to bother me too much. I knew I’d discovered one of the great truths, hidden for so long in plain sight: As long as you appear to be doing something, no matter how pointless or quixotic it is, people will generally leave you alone.

That is what I wanted. I wanted to enjoy my books and my friends and write my not-very-good stories and poems.

I didn’t think too much about the future. By the time I was 25, I’d worked so many different kinds of jobs that I could tell how things were going to pan out – cheap rent, low wages, ridiculous adventures. Fine!

John Hicks

“And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” – Revelation 5:4

It’s the day before the big game, Alabama vs. LSU. The weather is grim, a bad omen for somebody.

The Vegas boys have made the Tide five-point favorites. They’re good, the Vegas boys. They have the weird info, numbers you don’t know, can’t know. They control the passage of objects across the sky.

Life is ephemeral. The Vegas boys know. One way or another, there will be a riot at Bryant-Denny tomorrow night. It will be a powerful meeting of teams and fan bases, the game of the college season.

The grilled meat of the losers shall be flavorless and greasy.

The losers shall not savor merlot, nor Michelob Ultra, for the great day of wrath has come.

John Hicks

I seen you know who back there. Set fire to a TV and took pictures.


Poured gasoline on it and burnt it up. Seen him do it.

Wheres them pictures?

Where what?

Them pictures.

It was him took pictures Harmon.


John Hicks

It’s a beautiful fall morning in Hillbilly Paradise, Alabama.

Oh, goodness. I always have too much to write about and on top of that people are always giving me good ideas, which I never write down and often forget.

When I do make notes to myself, they are cryptic and worthless. I was working on a story not too long ago. I’d finished writing for the evening. I’d already powered down the PC when a story thought zinged through my brain. The thought seemed so crucial I decided to write it down.

Here’s what I ended up scribbling in pencil on the back of a bank statement: EVERYTHING THAT COULD POSSIBLY MATTER. (Block letters. I’ve been printing in block letters since junior high. I thought it looked better. Perhaps it was a cry for help. That’s entirely likely.)

Yes, that was my crucial thought in all its glory – EVERYTHING THAT COULD POSSIBLY MATTER.

John Hicks

Communicating with mother is tough. Sometimes you just have to sit there and listen to her yammer.

You know you can’t get out of the conversation. It’s your mother, who carried you in her womb for nine months.

Splattered with unpleasantness, you just sit there in it, because someone must.

I’m in the yard, next to the clothesline. I was walking away from another pointless exchange, but I have stopped, because mother is not finished.

I always stop at least once. Then I feel I have performed my daughter duty for the day.

She is leaning out the screen door, yelling at me to do something about my hair. Yammer yammer yammer. You hope, stupidly, for a significant event. A mushroom cloud, or the sudden return of Christ.

The sky is blue and the zinnias are in full bloom. Pink, orange, yellow, red, purple. The breeze is exquisite. I’m in my grass-cutting clothes, a pair of my father’s khakis and a blue-cotton work shirt, satiny to the touch.

“You can’t tell me how to wear my hair. I’m an adult. I’m lucky to even have hair, mother, because you are enough to make anyone’s hair fall out. You don’t understand boundaries. That’s why you don’t have any friends. People don’t, you don’t … You say things only a crazy person would say.”

John Hicks

I have lots of magazines lying around. They come in the mail, which is delivered by a woman in a tan Plymouth. I always wave at her, if I’m outside. Keep up the good work, Mail Lady!

My family and friends give me magazine subscriptions as gifts. It’s great. They know I am poor and shiftless and sit around gnawing on raw turnips etc. and would otherwise never encounter such.

One of these gift subscriptions is to The New Yorker. I don’t know if you’ve ever read The New Yorker, but it’s a pretty big deal. They’ve been around for a while. Keep up the good work, TNY!

I used to live in New York City about a million years ago, so I know a little something about the place. For a while there, I was a New Yorker, although I was usually on the brink of homelessness.

My friends who’d grown up in New York City thought I was fascinating. Not because of any talent I possessed, and certainly not because I had a clue about what I was doing there in the great metropolis.

I was a curiosity, a person of interest, simply because I was from the South, and not just the South, but Mississippi.

John Hicks

I was told I had been comatose. Not unconscious. Comatose. For three weeks.

I’m still not sure whether I was in a coma because a lawn tractor had bounced off my head, or because they had pumped me full of industrial-strength dope to keep me from moving around, or both.

I tried to get some specific answers about what had been going on while I was insensate, but it was the same doc-speak every time.

Potentially lethal head trauma. You’re a very lucky man. The surgery went well. No infection. Lucky for you. You were immobilized for your own good for a reasonable period of time. You should anticipate a full recovery. You’re a very lucky person.

John Hicks

I called Mr. George again this morning. Mr. George is a plumber. We are fairly well acquainted. My life is an interminable episode of Green Acres.

Someone answered after a few rings.


I thought maybe the voice was too young to be Mr. George’s voice. It sounded like it could be his assistant, whose name I had forgotten. It was very early and I had had no coffee. When you wake up and find Lake Michigan in your front yard, you become preoccupied.

“Hey, uh, there. This is John Hicks out on Coburn Mountain Road. How y’all doing?”

At such times I employ the local dialect. John becomes Junn, doing becomes doon, etc. I have solid hillbilly genes and several years in-country. Someday I will rotate back to the world and speak like Sir Laurence Olivier.

John Hicks

A friend of mine just posted a cool link on Facebook.

Stop the presses!

No, this really is cool. It’s audio from a 1969 Velvet Underground show in Boston, accompanied by images from Godzilla movies. Thanks, Dangerous Minds dot net!

I should also thank my friend Chris in Austin for posting the link. Thanks, Chris!

This particular clip happens to feature “What Goes On,” a nifty tune from the VU’s third album, The Velvet Underground. According to Dangerous Minds, someone put a microphone in Lou Reed’s guitar amplifier that fateful night. The recording is Godzillian, indeed.

No vocals are audible here. Behind the din of Lou’s majestic flailing, you can hear Maureen Tucker playing the drums, and that’s about it.

John Hicks

I was on a state highway in Texas. It was about 10 PM. I listened to the radio for the last 40 miles into Denton.

It sounded like the Texas I knew, all right. Twang, metal, hype. How ‘bout them Cowboys!

I was going to Denton to shoot some videos and record some songs with Bob Hate and Stephen Thomas, roughly two-fifths of The Eddy Band.

Stephen’s first band nickname was so obscene it actually became cool over the years. It was succinct and entirely filthy.

It cannot be written here. But sometimes words you leave out are just as good as words you leave in, I think.

5 144
John Hicks

I said goodbye to the varmints, hugged the folks and tried not to think about all the crap I’d probably forgotten to pack.

Bob Johnson followed me down to the end of the driveway. I rolled down the window of the truck.

“You be good, Bob,” I said. “I’m gone to Texas.”

I didn’t bother trying to explain to Bob Johnson I’d be back in a week or so. How Bob Johnson apprehends time, no one knows. But surely Texas was a concept he could grasp.

Luckily for me, Texas is a large state and hard to miss. I knew if I pointed the truck west and pressed the accelerator, I shouldn’t have too many problems.