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Squid #272
(published March 30, 2006)
Ask the Giant Squid: Camp Fire Island Tales
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

Did you know that Dustin Hoffman used to live on Fire Island?


Dear Grenzo,

This is a fact of which I am well aware: I, too, once lived on the Fire Island. But, please to rest assured that in my time the predominant atmosphere of this little barrier island off the easterly edge of the New York was quite different. Whereas now it is, I am told, full to the brim with the cavortings and satyr-playfulness of the Homogenized-Sexuals men, back in the days when I there dwelt it was a pristine wilderness, un-sullied by the moral turpitude that so does ooze from "The Pig Apple." The fact that such a scurrilous rat as Erik Garner Warren might now dwell there does speak leagues and furlongs for how deeply my little island has degenerated into depravity and decrepitude.

It is soothing to my nerves to cast my mind back to the days I lived among the Pines and Cherry Groves of the Fire Island, for now my status is greatly lowered. I kneel here, in an aluminum-walled gardening shed behind my lovely Hazel's mobile dwelling unit. The nature of the Mobile House is to be efficient, sparse—unfortunately, this sparseness tending towards a structural instability suiting neither my girth nor the water needed to make for me an environment hospitable. There are no "frills" nor any "dead weights" in the mobile home, as Mobility does demand a certain sparse-ness. The crab, the snail, the Man-of-War are successful because of this. They build no temples and buy no useless goods, like the ridiculous Octopus, with his elaborate architecture, ornaments and "entertainment centers." The nomadic tribes of your species' history knew this well, and I especially reflect upon the noble Bedouins, Idahota Sioux and Deadheads, all of whom are well known for their efficiency, frugality, fondness for grilled cheese sandwiches and willingness to forgo bathing if it might interrupt the primitive joys of dancing in a macadam parking lot while inhaling dental-grade nitrous oxide via their "peace pipes" or "hookas." These nomads and air-conditioned gypsies did not tolerate the extra weight, the gewgaws, the tchotkes that dragged down so many other tribes, who were then devoured by bears.

I lived on Fire Island but briefly, in the years following this nation's earliest adolescent forays into Independence, following George the Washington Carver's victorious freeing of the Wage Slaves at Fort Tichonderoga, but prior to him riding into the final victory at the Ragnorak Siege of Yorktown upon Blue, his trusted Tyranisaurian steed, and tearing from the gruntchimp Man-Jesus' own hand the initial draft of the U.S. Constitution, which I am to understand was penned with a quill carved from a feather from the wing of the angel Gabriel, and later folded into a most fiercesome battle frigate. Even in my day, of course, there were dangers in the wilds of Fire Island. Specifically, I understood then there was quite an epidemic of bears on the Island, although I never saw them. Many men spoke of devouring them and in turn of being devoured by them—but I saw no scarring nor loss of limb amongst these hearty fellows! "How," I asked my male companions, "can you be devoured by a Bear and not be rent in two, split open, dripping with fluids?" and they did reply, "How do you know I am not?" with a merry twinkle in their eyes. This is how I first learned that of the then nascent United States government's program to breed superior-soldiers on Fire Island, men who could be shorn of limb, eaten by Bears, their flesh mangled and abused and who could heal in an instant—showing no visible wounds—and feel no pain, or further, even revel in their atrocious ordeal.

These were the ur-men, the macho, macho men of Fire Island.

Upon my return to the Fire Island, in the late nineteen-and-seventies (or as I like to now term it, "one score and 15 years ago), it was even at that late date a very different place from the "resort" it has become. It was a no-man's land, a harsh and post-apocalyptic terrain where bands of battle-hardened men—the very descendants of the macho-man I had dwelt among in this nation's run-amok-youth—made war against the native fauna that had colonized the rocky outcroppings sometime prior to Squanto's terrible return to this nations plutonian shore. Blood soaked the stones, and peculiar violet-hued plants found purchase in the split-rock soil. The native fauna (or "Monsters" as Colonists, Americaneers and Sodomites had termed them) claimed the Northern slopes of Fire Island, and made their lair in the deep volcano that jutted like a pimple on a teenaged-gruntchimp's face from that promontory, sheering into the firmament as a proud erection in an amatuer photograph. The Warmen had a tenuous occupation of a scant few square miles at the very southern tip, hidden amongst trees and within caves.

The Men had fought for decades to secure even their tiny fort against the ravages of the peace-loving but impatient natives. No one knew why these colonists had chosen to stay on the inhospitable shores of Fire Island, but it seems that, having been selectively bred on its terrible bone-strewn beaches the Gaymen refused-or perhaps were categorically unable—to give any quarter or surrender a single inch of their toehold. Over the years these pain-less, lusty deathmen gathered to their aid more like-minded and inclined men, and developed fierce and morally-questionable weapons of war to use against the native population. Most famous of all was Physty the Whale, a savage-toothed Sperm Whale, 12 raging tons of loathing and vengeance. Physty waited in the dark, still waters off of Fire Island for the young Monsters to bathe or drink or engage in playful games at the sea shore. As soon as an appendage entered the water Physty would hurl himself from the depths and close his great grinding jaws on the poor young fiend.

More terrible still was the day when Dustin Hoffman came to Fire Island, but first I should tell you of my reluctant return and involvement there.

I was employed—briefly—as a war correspondent for a minor newspaper of little general repute. Strictly news, no opinion. No photographer could be spared for my junket, so the readers had to make due with my colorful descriptive powers and occasional sketches. I was, of course, a neutral party wandering betwixt the two camps, first communicating the native fauna's desire to simply be left alone to engage in their man-eating and city smashing, as was long the tradition of their people, then penning a human-interest story regarding the heart-warming Commitment Ceremony celebrated on behalf and in honor of the Gaymen's General and his favored Lieutenant, and so forth, always shuffling about in my chugging and gas-guzzling velocitator, chasing the fabled "Big Story" that might prove to be my ticket to success and exeunt off that rock, so less verdant than in the just Post-Colonial days under Jesus' Constitution, before Fire Island was scorched into naught more than these blood tides and banshee queens. And so I was both a reporter and a mercenary, careful to not give either side any information that I had gleaned, as the slightest whiff of betrayal would have the Men shunning me and the Monsters feasting on my succulent flesh—or, fearful more, vice versa. I spent my days hiding from the deadly sun, drinking rum and trading tales and tips with other Independent Operators in a small jungle bar. They would roll out of their beds, hammocks, or flesh-cocoons when the noonday sun was at its zenith and meet at Flynn's. These days it is a tavern respectable and upscale, where nary a limb is bitten off or torn asunder during a heated argument, but in my day drunkenness and anger seethed like a boiling stew, and all who dared approach to near risked being splattering with gravy, potatoes and vengeance.

Pitched battles heaved and panted across the land for many years, but the "Monsters" slowly and steadily lost ground. They were pushed by the Warring Tribes of Gaymen and Bears to the foot of their ancestral volcano, and there the war stalemated. No matter what tricksy of a monkey tactic the Men employed, the Monsters would not budge. Trojan Horses were incinerated, the screams of the burning manflesh echoing like lullabies in the night. Feints were parried. False-retreats were met with the stern refusal to advance. Ambushes lain in quiet care were discovered and devoured. Bullets and shuriken missed their targets, and horses and pony-boys alike refused to go near the smoky peaks.

As their ploys failed one-by-one, the numbers of the Men began to diminish. They worried that if they did not end their war soon, they would lose all the ground they had gained. And then came Dustin Hoffman. Like the straw that shattered the spine of some load-bearing beast, like the final kilo of weight that sends a granite-hard sheet of ice along the path to cracking, breaking and dissembling into the friscilating sea, he appeared to lend his strength, courage and stagemanship to the fray.

By all accounts the Little Big Hoffman landed on the shores of the Fire Island researching a role he hoped to win in an upcoming kinetescopic project being produced on the far western shore of these Untied States. I utter the phrase "by all accounts" as the Hoffman would not have dealings with one such as me. A "monster" I appeared to him—despite the fact that I was hardly native to Fire Island—and so a monster he pronounced me. It was unfathomable to his small, monkey brain that anything unhuman could be neutral in the struggle and a professional doctor of journalism, as well. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps I should have leant my savvy and strength to those poor, noble Native Fauna, doomed in their caves, nests and lava huts. They were my people, and I ignored them to pursue my chance at greatness in the literary realm. Their blood, shed by my own inaction, shall forever stain my tentacles and beak.

Dustin Hoffman, whose name incongruously means house boy of dust, was there to engage in the Method Acting, a sort of sympathetic magic whereby enacting the life of a chosen role he can grow closer to that life. It is not unlike voodoo, truth be told. But instead of summoning a great and powerful Loa to ride him and fill him, he summons the paragon of whatever acting performance is required. If he wishes to act the part of a trumpet-playing afro-boxer, the Dusty Houseboy may study and invoke the great Joe Louis Armstrong. So on and so forth. In this case, the role was to be Teddy Roosevelt as he was during the assault upon the United Fruit Cuba Bananatopia.

Hoffman had brought with him potent elixir made from equal parts ground presidential femur, psilocybin mushroom and milk thistle, this then rolled into an enormous cigar which he smoked for three days and nights. At the end of this time, surrounded by the armies of the Homogenized Men, Teddy Bear Roosevelt appeared and rode Dustin Hoffman, and filled him with his spirit and ectoplasm. Hoffman choked and gagged on the spirit, but the deed was done and the possession was complete. The Warmen of Fire Island had a new leader, renewed purpose, and a fighting chance.

Knowing the spell was short-lived, Hoffman/Roosevelt wasted no time in gathering the men—all of the men—for one last push at the volcano stronghold of the Native God Lizard and his ilk. He named his men Roughriders, he spoke to them softly, and they all agreed to follow him even it was unto their deaths. On horse, mule and pony the ragged Riders stormed the volcano. Their blades and bullets cut deeper into the monster-flesh and ghost-bone than they had ever before. The fight was short, brutal and decisive. The Men left no Monster alive, and even I had to make for the deep and wrestle with Physty the Terror, so great was their power and rage. I thought my piece on the scene—which I alone had witnessed impartially—was at turns poignant and fiery, and certainly of the Pulitzer caliber, but nonetheless the newspaper for whom I worked paid me the kill-fee and sent my upon my merry way, jobless and forlorn.

The last to fall was the God Lizard himself, Gojira. How a minuscule band of men could topple a giant such as him I will never know. His foot was larger than all of them together, but still somehow they succeeded. And this was when I finally learned the power of Man (in addition to the power of psilocybes, side-burns and a fine cigar.) Additionally, it was then I realized that the time of Monsters had passed, and that a new threat lay in store for the world, confounding in their small size and their vast numbers: Man was set to rule the globe. And so he has. For now.

So yes, Dear Grenzo, I know of Dustin Hoffman's residence on Fire Island. I know better than any. Should I close my optical perfect eyes and let the waters of memory muddle, I could still taste the ashes on my tongue. The Monsters, however, have not all left this world, and that which was once at its zenith may even now be at its nadir, which is to say, set to rise. The wheel of destiny is always turning, but only those of us who live on the rim may know in which direction it spins.

Until Next Week, Dear Readers
I Remain,
The Giant Squid

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