Part One: Vulgar Display of Power
“When you walk around wearing a crown you are likely rouse the ire of peasants.”
Welcome back to the MTG Underground.
In the beginning there was no magic. When Alpha and Beta came and went, few were fortunate to discover its beauty. Unlimited opened the door to more players, but the enchanting rarity of the early game lingered in relative obscurity. But the game continued to blossom. Arabian Nights explored a whole new world. Antiquities courted me into the multiverse. It mesmerized me, and my eternal obsession with artifacts came to life. Legends, in all of its overpriced and underprinted wonder, gave us new cards and card types.
“What’s your Pleasure, Sir?”
– Merchant in the Bazaar of Baghdad
This Vulgar Display of Power is not for the faint of heart. If you like to play it safe, this is not for you. Return to your life of coloring inside the lines, and let the fear in your veins keep you from leaving the yard. What lurks beyond the threshold is not to be controlled, and once you have seen it you can never erase it from your mind. If you cling to your artificial importance, defined by your significance in a small, sterile cell, run now while your sacred tenets are still intact. What you will find here will threaten everything that gives you your identity.
Not all words can be safely written. Continue reading
‘In the drowsy dark cave of the mind dreams build their nest with fragments dropped from day’s caravan”
Friday Night in Los Angeles. I am in the back seat of someone’s car. Misfits on the radio. Now David Bowie. Too drunk to know where we are going and too stoned to care. Another night, indistinguishable from the week before or the week to come. I sip from my flask and look out at the lights of the 405, thinking about nothing in particular.
The song changes again. Murder City Devils and we are somewhere on or near Laurel Canyon. My flask is empty when we pull up to some place I cannot make out in the darkness. There are cars parked all along the way up to the house and there are small groups of people collected about the front yard. We park on a narrow patch of yard and someone turns up the radio. Is it Mojo Nixon? This night is fucking weird.
Every night is fucking weird. Continue reading
“The Blessing of a hometown Festival is that you know where the opium dens are. The Curse of a hometown Festival is that the opium dens know who you are.”
–Boris Devilboon, Letters from the Unholy Citadel
Friday Night Derailed
A simple plan.
Dress up nice. Drink the whiskey. Dance in the Fire. Disappear before Sunrise.
The rhythm was fucked from the start. Problems on a job site put me an hour behind schedule leaving work and traffic kept the freeways at a crawl. I could save time by abandoning the journey home to head straight to the venue, but without my supplies it would be a wasted trip. Reality was threatening my Friday Night at GP Detroit, and my blood was boiling with contempt as I forced my way onward.
I took a shower and shaved my head. I was already behind schedule, but I was not going to look like the savage bastard I intended to act like. I gathered the fresh batch of Green Mana Cookies™ I made the night prior and my binder of extra cards, mostly Oldschool stuff I have upgraded or the remnants of the last collection I inherited. On the other side of the Weekend a Bazaar of Baghdad would be waiting for me, but it would not be free and it would not come easy.
“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.”
– Oscar Wilde, The Importance of being Erhnam
All of this began with a recounting of the second time I was mugged. But the more I wrote, the more complicated it became. The lines that define began to gray and fade. The story painted me in an unjust light. I was the victim, yet the words seem to suggest I was the villain. As I read it I cursed the writer for his slander, only to bite my tongue in realization that I was the recipient of the lashing.
So for now, it will remain shelved. And for a rare and capricious approach, I will begin with and primarily discuss Magic.
“What is this?”
She stood in the doorway. With the light beaming in through the window from the hall behind her, I could only make out her silhouette. As my eyes focused, I could see that she was holding something in her fingers. It was a piece of paper.
I held my tongue and tried to gauge her body language. She was tense. Nervous. Was she holding her breath? I did not recognize it, and I did not want to imagine what it might be. She seemed to be holding it up accusingly. Any reaction would unleash her fury. I was curious, but far too aware to step into such an obvious trap. Any misplay would would cost me dearly.
“To reflect on the past, we must pull our teeth from the flesh of the present and our vision from the hellfire of the future.” – Baron Sengir
Summer 2002. My daughter was three years old. She was almost as fascinated with me as I was with her.
The first time I found her looking at a Magic card, but I could not see what it was. She was talking to my brother about it.
“This is my dad. That’s blood by his mouth.”