In January 2013 Miller was asked to review the book DISCORD: A HISTORY OF NOISE for the Wall Street Journal. On Sat., Feb.16 his review appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
Miller has been a Slate Journalist, a blogger for the Huffington Post, has had various stories and poems published, and blogs Mission of Burma tours for the band’s web site.
Two Very Short Stories by RCM, 1993
Miller began writing short stories and poems as a child – he still has a number of story cycles starting age 7. Mostly his stories are very short. In his High School Senior Arts Magazine, he shared the most poems (6 each) with Sproton Layer producer Mark Brahce.
His series from 2006 – Insect Futures – was published in the book Penny Ante III, and a few of his stories from 1993 were published in the Boston literary magazine “Button”. Generally, these one-page (or less) stories are rather abstract and do not follow traditional linearity.
As a journalist, he contributed a week-long journal for SLATE magazine in 2004 (during which he was happily given a digital camera, causing him to begin photography anew). When he apologized to the editor for the amount of technical errors he knew must be in his paragraphs, she responded that his writing needed remarkably few corrections. He was stunned.
In fall 2006, he was asked to contribute a Blog for The Huffington Post, based on their enthusiasm for his SLATE journal. Curiously, every blog he posted enraged readers. In one blog, he suggested demanding that U.S. Presidents inform the public of their dreams each morning, and gave an exaggerated example of George Bush sleeping with Sadam Hussein. A reader took him 100% seriously and was enraged that the idea had even been suggested. Miller was soon attacked for being an opportunist: “You’re just trying to prop up your flagging career!” ran one response (the reader apparently was unaware that both Alloy Orchestra and Mission of Burma were touring internationally at that time). When he posted a blog on “protest songs”, he was informed that his lyrics for the Mission of Burma song “Wounded World” were worse than a 5 year-old’s. After five blogs he apologized to the editor, saying he had grown weary of this manic criticism and no longer wanted to do the blog. The editor apologized profusely for the readers’ responses, and reiterated that he thought Miller’s writing was quite good, and understood why Miller was leaving. Overall an interesting, if not exactly amusing, experience.
Words continue to flow out of Miller’s mind, as is obvious by this web site.
Here is the 2006 series: Insect Futures.
I stepped down that stairway again, recognizing the wall cracks, the peeling paper, the ancient spackle speckling the floor, the insect trails spelling out my future work in clumsy detail.
On the landing was my table, unused for a decade. There my collection of palindromes designed to be viewed whilst at mirror, glassy-eyed removal from the world. There my clutch of scribing tools, as if no one was home. “Shit: I’M home….” I muttered as I ran back up the stairs. And with my fingernail clippers I notched a chip into a larva’s destructive trail and scampered back down my repetitive route. The pens and papers were now all spread out: each one had a smiling face crying “Eat me! Eat me! Eat me!”
I hadn’t even known i was hungry…..
I read the numeral “1” above the door. “One, you say”, I said. My hand handed the handle, the portal pivoted, and I wended my wounded way, worry-less, into its innards.
Room I (of V):
I’m pretty sure I was a rock musician in a previous life. I can tell by the scars on my right hand, just where i would have held the ball and chain, the drugulation and visualizationalizationalizing tools. I can hear the PA system even now, moaning like a cat.
“Rock, motherfucker!” screamed the crowd, and I bowed benevolently, scanning my internals for the next move. I had no idea what i was doing there. “Tell it like it is,” I muttered, cremating my worries and observing the slow smoke drift skyward. Whilst my rock creamed oozily like everyone’s dream gourd, loading up seeded positrons and glue-soaked dream-whip.
I turned to run but my feet would not move, clung solidified to the stage floor by chains and boulders beyond the size of any normal person’s imaginings. Nearly snapping my thyroid through my exertion, I slip-shodded a cute ankle gesture, grinned like a suckleable sow and cried out “I knew this would happen, yesterday!” And that was enough. The crowd surged forward, ecstatic in their wonderment, and pushed beyond me through the dark curtain behind, whence they vanished from my sight, from my obtusely amused amazement.
My right hand gripped the rock whilst mine lefty cranked a hammer unto this carbuncle and cleaved until cloven, glassily memorizing every linear detail towards a geode in June in the Joshua Tree Desert.
The next CD was bootlegged so often I actually had to pay for the recording sessions five times just to cover the losses. But the populace was happy, and I was part of the populace. So I kept at it for 70 or 80 years more, just to make a day seem bigger than it really was.
Event Locution Enabler #2:
Finally, my mind gave out at a tall rectangular contrivance in the wall on my left. I slewed my mind-waves backwards into memorabilia, and deduced that this was: “A Door.” I’d seen these things before, when I was younger. They always looked like this, and if you pushed or pulled them correctly, the thickness of your body could cross over, after a certain amount of body heat expended, the door-stop.
Room II (of V):
“You shouldn’t have done that.” I remarked. It was her turn to provide punctuation, but she refused. “what mean you this that the other thing gladly you over-turned me”. I was working up a reply, but the large catalog I’d been carrying so carefully bit my arm and slithered out of my hands to the ground – in fact it even turned to snicker at me. “FUCK!” I cried, reaching floor-ward, but altogether too late. “It’s mine now” she refused to clarify. I spontaneously demoralized, and made no comment. But a crevice appeared in the valley floor, and I hadn’t put it there. Initially the size of a Tot-50 staple, it expanded exponentially with each passing time-chunk. The rending of the air became unbearable and for the first time in my life I requested earplugs: a few beetles, hard-shelled and eagerly hopping about during the dry lunar new-year, clicked into my ears while she laughed aloud: “credibility is today’s retro and tomorrow will see the languid exegesis of this pullullation”. I could only mutter this word under my breath: “Shit.”
At that moment the first wave hit and i was knocked breathless against the silver-sided mountain. Everyone else i saw was in the same state: electrocuted whence water and ions confused their personalities. Thousands screaming in unison. Again, this was not my day, nor was it anyone else’s.
The smell of burnt flesh was gratuitous, something I’d come up with to appeal to the masses. But I realized that I, too, was part of that mass. The massive upsurge that moves in unison, that hates the unknown, that won’t accept the new until it has proven itself acceptable by renouncing its initial bone-breaking belligerence. At THAT point we can have a party!
But we each had our own view of what consisted of “Party.” She thought everyone should pre-talk and amble about the birdhouse. My thought was that we should each discover some fresh nuance concerning the tree by the driveway wall. So no one really did anything, and fun was a concept only, very mental. Menial labour was at least something concrete and better than anything I’d done all day, despite my best efforts. So I swept the lawn with my old Toro mower, and bagged whatever I collected to redeem at the corner store.
Later I was told that it had been a good party.
The merchant told me the value of my clippings, and it wasn’t so high. He had a chart which he pointed to, but for some reason I needed glasses 4 times the power of any I’d previously clamped to my eyes. Such that there was no hope of my accurately sensing the visual cues. “These are them” he spoke, “and that’s what you go. So……” (and here he coughed a nervous twitch) “i kin only give ye a slab and a half.” “Fuck” (I thought to myself), “anything over half a slab is in my ballpark, by Johnny!” and I found myself nodding with a clean grin, teeth tethered by a ruby red gumline to the jaw in anyone’s ideal of health, vitality, and consummate cultural grace. “Sign here”, he smiled, “and please proceed to the door indicated by the arabic numeral “THREE”.” I nodded, and realized that our unison moment of pleasure was not all that common in human discourse.
Room III (of V):
It was bright like shattered sun-spikes puncturing gleaming golden orbs; i.e., VERY bright. My eye-pain was incongruous with the feeling of homo sapien warmth I’d contracted from the merchant. Why did I come in here? Pin-holes appeared in the walls, little dark arrows – they provided dotted relief from the visual torment.
I heard a graphic RIP, and knew that the wall had been rent, and was of the consistency of paper – thin and flapping in a cool breeze that came from “over there”. And as eleven trumpets braised the glorious nature of this alternate universe, I viewed the celestial armies laden down with obscure and archaic armours, weapons long viewed as useless in actual warfare. Row upon row trooped up the hillside path, a beatific glow, healthy as all fuck, upon each high gothic brow.
Against the clack of swollen metal shields chafing pre-football shin-guards, a new clack could be heard. This new clack more closely resembled the woodlier sounds of the woods, combined with a corrosive electronic whine. The fwapping of helicopters loomed omnipresent, but how could that be? They had not yet been invented; hell, at this point L. da Vinci hadn’t even graduated from middle school.
Then the sky blackened with hordes of insects, buzzed beyond human thought, beyond internal skeletons, i.e., the definition of “us” vs. “them.” These Exo-warriors felt no shame, no glory, no interest… they acted as a mass. And for all the light radiating off their elegiac foreheads, the confused galactic warriors couldn’t do shit and were trampled, pinched, bitten in half, corroded by acidic fluids, and generally were totally fucked.
Mercifully I’d purchased, with the slab and a half I got from the merchant in return for my yard scrapings, some pretty damn good duct tape. And I stroped strips of that baby onto the paper walls with such alacrity that I’d sealed the whole “alternate” universe off before even one of those millions of cracked eyes could glean my existence, or scope my sorry ass out.
But now it was so fucking bright again. You just can’t win.
What a relief to be in the hallway! The slightly damp odor was returning but it didn’t worry me as much as what i’d just seen. Everything had a softness, a calm subdued air flavor that did not disturb me. That did not make me overly aware. Kind of nice to just lay back every so often, i mused. What I need now is a good……..
Room IV (of V):
This stream was not really mine – I mean, I owned it all right. It was on my fucking property. But it seemed, well, a bit DISTANT, if you know what I mean. I’d go out to it at night, sit down on the lawn, and read it stories. Stuff about crawdads and stripers and whatnot, bullfrogs and caddis-fly larvae. But I got the sense that the stream wasn’t too impressed. I mean, what do I really know about humpback chubs? Compared to the stream, anyways.
One time I fell asleep, after feeling exceptionally futile in my labors, with my feet dangling drippily in the water. That was when I first met the Sea-Hippo. I’m not kidding. I heard something that woke me, and I peered out into the water. I could just make out this huge blob, and a rather grotesque rumbling rattle was affiliated with that bulk. And the stream was now wider than the town of Albion. And that hulking bulk was coming my way.
It was really big, and I knew Sea-Hippos were dangerous – hell, EVERYBODY knows that! I retreated to a folding chair in the moon-light but I was just too damned fascinated to call the humane society.
It clumped ungracefully, but still astonishingly efficiently, onto the beach. My god, if it’s not now sitting in the arm-chair I’d posited here last week to catch a few rays! It gives me the eye, like “hey dude, you is fukt!” I recalled the lessons from 5th grade: “Whenever you see a Sea-Hippo, stay calm, and try to act friendly. They’re really as scared of you as you are of them.” Yeah, sure! That fucking “eye” it gave me was turning into a rather unpleasant squint, and now it put down it’s cigarette and positioned itself on all fours. I could feel the vibe revving up, and it wasn’t too good.
Well, I decide I must calm it, and as it charges towards ME, I lunges towards IT! It stops, gets kinda quizzical (a common theme in the literature of certain ancient cultures). I put on my best smile, spout a couple of e.e.cummings poems, and put my right arm in its mouth – and lo: it doesn’t bite down!
I keep up with the e.e.cummings until I exhaust my library, then I pat its back. The rumbling slows down, and now it sits back on its haunches and actually kind of smiles. (fucking Sea-Hippo lips, yow!). I bring it over some smokes and we kind of lay back, looking at the stars. Finally, I can sense it’s getting a bit bored – my elbows were getting grass dents pretty deep anyways. So, as if of one mind, we both get up, give a mild head-nod, and each walk back to our respective homes.
God, what a weird night.
Interlocational Pository #5:
I’m pretty sure I saw a bathroom down the hallway – there must be a sink in there where I can wash off this Sea-Hippo slobber. Shit, which way was it? It was before Room #4, I’m pretty sure. There was a little shelf that had something that looked like an ashtray on it. But no one smokes down here, do they? Except Sea-Hippos. God, what a weird species.
I think this is the washroom……
Room V (of V):
I heard the scuttling legs, brittle against the hard floor. They weren’t looking for me as far as I could tell. Maybe they weren’t looking for anything, just going, going, going.
But there were stains on the wood. Dots and scars connected like constellations on the dark night floor. My collapsing eyes located these moments into new conglomerates, newly incorporated order. Fill in the outlines with your own meaning: that’s what you’re supposed to do.
I curve downward into a trench, unable to keep alert. This is my home, isn’t it? Neighbors don’t dance the same dance. Don’t walk the same walk. Don’t have the same ambitions. I drive the chips ahead of me. I shear off the unwanted, to give me more room. I can’t anticipate very well – maybe I never could. But I get a feel for the foundation, where I can go and where I’ll be disappointed. Why my accidental gestures are often more real than the ones I thought out. Thinking things thickly theoretical.
I want that Magic Lamp so I can figure out what I did. I want my errorizations to add up to something I had no idea about. I just dig. I try to dig justly. I can smell the moments living all over me.
What is that damn scuttling sound? It sounds so close……
Jesus, i just woke up and my hair is matted so hard it cut my wrist. Blood baubles dancing cheerily without worry, without purpose. Not too serious, I perceive. I’ll just put that memory shard in my pocket, and if it doesn’t cut a hole in it to fall out from, I’ll get it back home in one piece.
There is only one way out, and it’s always there. I just never wanted to leave before, I guess. I wonder what day it is?
RCM Dec.18, 2006