After time, place names lose all their meaning, and just become sounds. There were probably some historians who knew the Milktown district was named after the historical civil rights leader Martin Luther King. They would probably be the only ones who would recognize the irony of setting up the largest slave market in that section of the city.
(I ran this idea past my wonderful wife, who thought it was too grim. Then upon reflection she realized there is probably human trafficking going on somewhere on our MLK Way right now. The fight for freedom never ends.)
Not so much a story idea as something I’d really love to see: The blooper reel from Citizen Kane. I imagine Kane stomping around like a frankenstein monster; Joseph Cotten drunk off his ass trying to remember his lines; Everett Sloane hitting on Agnes Moorehead. Them messing up scenes, walking into walls, flubbing difficult lines. And most of all, Welles scrounging for money and making crazy-ass decisions.
Paul McCartney asked a chauffeur how life was. The man answered he was so busy, he’d been working eight days a week. Bingo, another idea for a song. For both of them. Paul & the Beatles had a hit in America with the song, though it never caught on in England. But the chauffeur also wrote songs. The truth was, he was an amazing song writer, but was too damn busy to ever finish anything properly. He was getting on a bit when he heard his kids playing the song, and it rekindled his thoughts & desires.
English science and philosophy was a small world in the early 1800s, and there was no clear demarcation of the disciplines. The philosopher William Godwin most likely knew of the works of Ersamus Darwin and his works on galvanic response—the twitching of dead muscles in response to electircal shocks. It may be that one stormy night William’s young daughter, Mary, half-awake from the noise of the storm, might have stumbled upon a late-night meeting of her father and friends. Lit by flashes of lightning, she may have watched them trying to infuse dead animals with the force of life. It would be the hard-to-fathom sort of memory she might have half-carried into adulthood, when she wrote the novel Frankenstein.
Not all guilds died out in the mechanized era. The Guild of Saint Eloi saw what was coming and took on a more mystic nature, becoming a secret society: the Lord’s Order of Knife-Makers. The charismatic third leader noted the symbology of using small knives to cut larger knives, and took the arm further underground, seeing god as an infinite recursion into the miniscule. They came to worship The Infinite Edge. They are masters of the lasers and light, and enforce their secrecy with deadly silence.
The factory worker from the last posting returns to China, and uses his skills to get into university. He wants to follow the democratic ideals of Sun Yat Sen and create a better democracy in China than America. He becomes involved in the Tiananmen uprising, and manages to escape unnoticed. He returns to his village and lives silently, broken.
1988, and a worker at a rural Chinese factory becomes obsessed with the cable car Christmas ornaments he produces out of straw. He works and plots to accompany a shipment into America, and he arrives in San Francisco, where he sees cable cars and how casually his village’s work is thrown away.
Two stories told simulataneously: Two boys, aged 9 are in a mass of children trying to get from one place to another. The first is during the age of the crusades, and he hopes to get to the Kingdom of God in Jerusalem to find his father. The Second hopes to get to the magical city of New York to find his Mother. Both must use all their skills to survive as they watch the children around them captured, killed, prostituted, or changed into monstrous people in order to survive.
The Producers created the entertainments and Consumers were entertained. The Gatekeepers controlled the feed. There was little else to do since physical needs were seen to. But as is often the case the Producers spent so much time focussing on creation and competition for scarce resources, they rarely saw the profits that were taken in. Finally revolution broke out. The Producers, starving for bandwidth, worked to wrest the feed from the Gatekeepers. And the Consumers, starving for the feed, followed them. But revolution is a fickle goddess, and in a generation many of the Producers were as bad as the old Gatekeepers.
Ideabird 7/4/12 Fourth of July edition
A physicist working on theoretical time time travel starts noticing changes around him. People start drinking tea instead of coffee. The Washington Monument disappears, and the next day D.C.does too. Accents sound more British. No one else notices when the history books change, briefly mentioning a lost rebellion led by General Washington. The scientist realizes he must somehow build a time machine and go back to help Washington. Oh, and there has to be werewolves in there somewhere.
She’s not sure whether she’s dreaming or not but civil-war general are wandering in and out of conversation with her. But they keep getting their own facts wrong. She’s awfully confused herself, unable to tell a rat from a cucumber without peeling them. But she knows her civil-war facts, and keeps educating them. Finally Stonewall Jackson remembers himself, and the others soon follow suit. In their own luciditiy they explain that she was a history professor, hit in the head during a Gettysburg re-enactment. She is currently in a coma.
It’s raining outside as her teacher talks about ancient humans, and how they lived in caves. She listens to the sound of rain on the roof, and imagines a time before people discovered caves, when they must have been half-ape, living in trees as the rain fell on them. After school she walks through the rain into the public park where her family has been secretly living since they lost their house.
Young brother Lauro loves to sing, but the elder monks joke that his voice make crows fall dead from the trees. So the boy’s apprencticed to the deaf old bell-ringer. When the old abbot dies he finds his spirit can linger, and he enters the heads of his various brothers. When he hears Lauro sing, from inside Lauro’s head, it’s the voice of an angel. How can he tell the others not to let the boy go deaf?
in 1952 a photographer captures a picture of a black trumpet player at a Chicago train station. We follow the photograph through time as it is printed, put in a retrospective collection, and is finally one of the few images to survive the great burning. It is part of the human experience beamed into space, where it is the only piece received by an alien race long after the Earth is burnt to a cinder.
ideabird 2/27/12-Oscars Edition
A pair of 1920s shoes with celluloid high-heels is found in a thrift store in Lyon. A collector from Hollywood buys them. A team of nano-archaelologists takes them apart, molecule by molecule, digitizing the chemical makeup. Computers reassemble the chains of numbers into images, and reconstruct several minutes of a lost George Méliès film.