Burgerpunk was this picture. You’ve seen it. The picture from every burgerpunk thread, the headliner picture.
A highway service station that’s rich to the max in traffic, signage, burgers, parking lots. The picture shot so that its distance comes up all flat in your face like it’s a middle-ages painting before they’d figured out what depth was. All the signs right in your face, all the ugly shit at once, the ugly shit without order or perspective or priority, just filling up your eyes right now.
That was burgerpunk. Then we tried to write about it.
Why would you fucking write about anything?
You take this thing, this picture, that’s just there. It’s evident. Says what you can see. You take it.
Then you try to turn your picture into lists of words with and’s and but’s and much to Rodrigo’s surprise, the Asian gas-station attendant licked the diesel off it.
It’s not just trying to explain the picture, it’s trying to explain exactly the thing inside the picture that’s not explainable. That’s what literature is, right? It’s saying the thing that you can’t say. Why is a novel that says, say, orange man bad – why’s that a shit novel? Not because orange man good. Because saying This Good That Bad isn’t even writing. It’s just talking onto paper.
Everyone believed we could take burgerpunk and make it into writing. Why believe? Because of the word. Because the word burgerpunk, all alone, burgerpunk – relish it – that word made us think that words could say what can’t be said.
So we tried to write about a picture. The picture we’d called burgerpunk.
Forget we. I tried to write burgerpunk. I failed:
Burgerpunk is gritty realism.
Burgerpunk is a grand adventure.
Burgerpunk is despicable hardcore pornography.
1. In the opening of my post-DeLillo masterpiece the kid of the single-mom who can only afford a trailer near the intersection talks about how a driving license is proof of age, and kinda also the measure of consent, depends who you ask.
E2. Working double-part-time for two different Burger Chains with Mexican clientele and motivational team upkeep policies she battles with ennui and I battle to write yet another smalltime story about how nothing happens and someone’s sad about it, fuck, let’s do sci-fi.
1. Since Neil Stephenson already did a sci-fi thing with pizza delivery through a high-tech net-linked suburbia, I make my one about some surveillance state or something.
2. There’s a company brainwashing scheme that’s a secret, and when the hero finds out the secret he has to, like, go on the run from the assassin dressed as mechanics or as kid-friendly mascot characters. Kill all witnesses. Mossad’s in on it too.
3. There’s grenades behind the counter and shotgun blasts through ice-cream truck doors. Ike E. Hummingbird, your hero, uses chip oil to turbocharge his pickup and blast it through the corporate headquarters’ window then he backflips out the back and does this have shit to do with burgers anymore? Are people like us, fast food people, alone at the interstate rest-stop people, are we athletes, are we killers? I make a note to rewrite the legend of Ike Hummingbird as a film script then I get on with some serious literary work about cumming.
1. Since The World Gaping Rodeo got banned the itinerant All-American trucker workforce has been looking for a new, sicker distraction. Something to radio shit-talk over. That’s where A Double Coke With That started.
2. The first A Double Coke With That video’s a chick whose face you can’t see and she’s fitting fries up her cunt. At the end of the video the john pours a double coke over the cunt full of fries and then he starts to eat it out of her. Somehow this shit goes viral.
3. The plot – oh fuck, the plot! – is about the grim reality of – no! It’s about a dark conspiracy of – hold it! The book is a description of takeout-related sex acts. In excruciating detail. Adjectives everywhere. It’s an internetsworth of unhappy things you can do with a Happy Meal.
4. After the four-hundred page first chapter on the subject of fries, just about ready to start on the bun, I chance on a thread where the burgerpunk picture’s right there. I look at it. Then I turn to the open sketchbook by my side. Greasy recta. Pickled glans. Is this it?
Cyberpunk was punk, but not punk like the music. It was punk because it ripped off detective books from the black-and-white movie days. It was cyber plus Marlowe. The cyber Blue Dahlia. The Cybertese Falcon, that was all. Because detectives were tough the cyber wound up feeling punk.
Burgerpunk probably isn’t Snow Crash or White Noise or Toni Ware or even my pornographic magnus opus. Probably it’s a good old noir, but stuck between truck stops and takeouts. That’s what burgerpunk writing’s going to look like. But the second we write it down, the second the detective’s got the baddie, then we’ll look right back at the picture, our picture, the picture that is truly burgerpunk, and we’ll say – Nah dude, that’s not it.