I Can't Type With My Arms Around Jesus / 15 July 1998

I bought this new mouse for my computer. It’s made by Kensington and it’s called the PanORB Input Device. The thing is about the size and shape of a basketball, I guess, and I managed to get a black one to match my iNeXT (a prototype I scored in a dramatic late-night poker game last year; unstable and perhaps carcinogenic, it’s an onyx cube that floats six inches above its base thanks to powerful electromagnetics [which also, unfortunately, erase all data contained within the hard drive on a daily basis, thereby enforcing my own personal and difficult rule of tabula rasa]). The PanORB allegedly has an extremely large, though finite, number of sensors all over its surface, and each one can be programmed to perform a different function, and it’s all coded to my fingerprints so if any burglar thinks he and/or she can just bust in here and start fondling my PanORB and accessing my already-erased and important files they can just think again. Anyhow, after like a month of fiddling with the software and learning its obscure and rather arousing scripting language, I managed to get it up and running and configured so I could just hold it aloft in both hands, twitch almost imperceptibly, and either balance my checkbook or get a good score in Klondike.

So there I was, right, moving my fingers across the light-absorbing surface of the PanORB, when suddenly the monitor of the iNeXT blew out. One minute I’m using Photoshop to add my head onto an illegally acquired nude photograph of Geena Davis (not instead of her head, but next to her head, on her shoulder, like it was grafted on, like she’s this two-headed mutant … oh, here, just see for yourself … it’s really a sitcom waiting for a backer, is what it is) and the next I’m staring into an empty blackness. I do the typical cursing and kicking and then a message appears on the screen, briefly, achingly brief, but long enough for it to burn itself onto my retinae:


This posed a number of problems, not the least of which was the fact that this was obviously a result of the PanORB since my computer had worked A-1 fine since I got it and now I add this new peripheral and all of a sudden things are going nuts. Then there’s the fact that Jesus’ log cabin is on the other side of the country and it’s already almost noon, so just what the heck was I supposed to do? Luckily I’d amassed a huge number of frequent-flyer miles thanks to my close friendship with a certain globetrotting cable news correspondent who will of course remain nameless, and so could cash in for one of the high-end prizes, namely a first-class seat on the Continental XPX which, as the legend goes, travels at such high velocity that it causes one’s clothes to disintegrate. No worries, though: A first-class ticket on the Continental XPX, in addition to a number of other benefits (incl. a large library of DVDs, a personal masseuse [OK not like completely personal since you have to share him/her with the others in your row], an excellent selection of rare meats and wines, etc., etc.), buys you a bright orange, custom-fitted, velcro-sealed jumpsuit that you can put on as the plane is taxiing to your final destination.

So I caught the 5:22 which still barely got me there in time. Orange-jumpsuit-clad, I rented a Toyota Camry and OK so maybe I was five or six minutes late, TOPS, but gimme a break, you know? But no, I stagger into the log cabin and Jesus that bastard has the nerve to glare at me and make a big production of looking at his watch.

“Look, I’m sorry,” I said, flinging myself into a worn La-Z-Boy recliner.

“I’m a busy man, San,” Jesus said, adjusting his reading glasses and idly flipping through some papers in his lap.

“No you’re not.”

“Well, I’m an important figure, you know, in society, in culture, and I’d appreciate your being a little more responsible.”

“Whatever, Jesus.”

He leveled me with that steely gaze and I assumed a properly mollified mien, you know, head bowed, hands clasped, et al. That was evidently good enough because then he went on: “San, I want you to listen to this song I wrote.”

“Jesus, you could’ve sent me a tape, like before.”

“I haven’t recorded it yet. That’s what you’re here for.”

“Who do I look like, JC? Phil Spectre [sic]?”

“Just give it a listen.” And with that, he busted out this little lyre, spent a few moments getting it in tune, strummed some warmup chords, and then broke into song. A scant two and a half minutes later, it was over, the final note chiming through the log cabin. He opened one eye and glanced at me.

“It’s catchy,” I said, nodding. “It’s a little rough, and that bridge stinks to high heaven, but the rest is rock solid.”

“You don’t think it sounds too much like ‘Pretty Woman’?”

“The chords are there, but you put your own spin on it.”

He looked pleased. “You have to come into the studio with me,” he said. “I need your magic.”

“Jesus, I’ve really got a lot on my plate these days.”

“It’ll take a day. An afternoon. It’ll be simple to put together.”

“We’re going to have to do something with the bridge, and maybe get some backing vocals. And we’ll be golden if we can get the rights to sample that beat from ‘In the Light,’ but that’ll take forever.”

He gave me That Look. You know the one. So I’ve spent the past few weeks (that’s right: weeks!) getting this thing on tape. Jesus is a total perfectionist but, you know, when you get down to it, he really is a pleasure to work with. He’s back at his log cabin and working with some of his older material, trying to decide if has enough to flesh out a whole LP. I’ve told him I simply don’t have the time to produce an entire album, but I could work on some remixes if he wanted.

Joshua Green Allen

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