Steven Seighman Introduces New Work from Jared Hohl // Monkeybicycle 9
It was 10 years ago this year that Monkeybicycle was started in Seattle. It was an idea born out of love for young, unpolished writing, and nurtured, in part, by the ghost of grunge’s DIY ethic. There weren’t many online journals back then (a few of our favorites were McSweeney’s, Pindeldyboz, and Eyeshot), but there were plenty in print—some great, some not—at almost all of Seattle’s many independent bookstores. We aspired to live fully in both worlds.
Over the past decade, Monkeybicycle has held steady with that hope, publishing close to a thousand works online and more than 250 in our print editions. We’re proud of everything we make available to our readers, whatever the medium, and hope that even with so many new journals surfacing on a regular basis, we’re still a destination for people who want to enjoy some great writing and eclectic entertainment.
Below is a story from our latest print issue, number nine. “My Different Looks” by Jared Hohl is a great example of what this book is all about. The 29 works in this issue are so varied in form and content. Some are straightforward stories that offer up a traditional narrative. Others are funny, fragmented vignettes revealing brief glimpses into much larger—and surely odd—universes. At Monkeybicycle, we embrace this kind of mix with our long, furry arms, and hope to keep doing so for another 10 years.
My Different Looks
By Jared Hohl
I’ve got different looks. I’ve got my “Brock” look. This is all beefed up, hair dyed light blond and shaved into a crew cut. My jaw gets much bigger for this look. I’m, like, “Brock!” Big muscles, you know. Cut the sleeves off my T-shirt. Camaro. There are some ladies who love to be fucked by a man in crew cut and muscles. Yeah, I’m dumb. But dumb can fuck long. Dumb can make hair sprayed tits come out of anywhere. For this look I buy music from the mall. I used to eat drive-thru, but now I’m all smoked salmon. I’m all broccoli. Brock! My eyes get loose, but it’s not from drugs. That’s how I look. I drink beer sometimes but not too much, because I like to look good and my workouts. Putting on the calories is OK because I sweat like a pig. Electrolytes. Get a sweat goin’. Five minutes of grapplin’. Five minutes of circuit lift. A feel-good lift and then a mental lift. Fried food for dinner for Brock. I’m Brock. Head like a post. Tattoos of swords and barbed wire. Frederick’s of Hollywood for my girlfriends. International Male. My favorite bar for this look is the Irish pub at Disney’s Epcot Center. I like safe air. But brother, I will fuck you up fast. Fighting makes me feel good for this look. For this look I cry when I lose. I am very clean. Shine my floormats. Neoprene. Sunblock. For this look I have a penis of normal size, but which is very oddly shaped. Bikini girls go bug-eyed at it. I make a joke and cal it Turnbuckle. Just sounds right. Give old Turnbuckle a kiss. I microwave my HealthPaks. Drink a powdered power drink. Brock on a bike. Brock’s running shoes. Brock’s jacket. XXXL, for sure. Big and Tall. For this look I get depressed once every five years. For this look I tuck in when I go out. Bad dancing. Raise my eyebrows when I talk to girls. Gorilla gentleman. For this look I flex whenever I take my shirt off. Give old Turnbuckle a kiss. I shave every day for this look. Men’s eye cream. Men’s vitamins. I iron and fold my own clothes. I tell everybody about it. Moms like my Brock look. Give old Turnbuckle a kiss. Support the death penalty. I am loyal to my brand of deodorant. Clap loudly. Loyal to my Chevy truck. Whoop-whoop. I’m Brock.
* * *
I’ve got my “Richard” look. This is big gut and an old T-shirt, glasses and a bag of tortilla chips, crumbs everywhere. For this look I’m covered in computer light. For this look my eyes are red. I operate camera number four for this look. Chew gum courtside. Sunburn my bald spot. I do not have total control for what you see for this look, but when the director selects camera number four, you and I are together. You see what I see, the way I want you to see it, the things that are interesting to me for this look. For this look I like to shoot tennis matches. For this look I like you to watch the ball the way that I do. Flash pan. Cold sandwich on a plate. Belch. I want you to understand that not all tennis balls are shot the same way by all cameramen for this look. For this look I give a twenty percent leading edge. For this look other cameramen give at least a thirty-five percent edge. A twenty percent edge is next to impossible to maintain without years of practice for this look. For this look others ask, “Who in their right mind would try a twenty percent edge?” For this look they say, “Who would try to maintain such a nerve-racking shot, to wait until the quickly moving ball has almost escaped the frame before panning to track it, to try and keep it there at the side of the frame, to keep that twenty percent edge without letting it skip out of view or drag way back behind?” For this look I consider cameramen who ask those questions to be cowards. Richard the Great. Spotty goatee. Pit stains on my Cubs shirt. Twenty percent edge because I can for this look. Twenty percent edge because it best represents the movement of a tennis ball, captures its essence. I believe golf balls should have a forty-five percent lead for this look. For this look footballs are dead even at fifty percent. I take these things very seriously for this look. For this look I want you to see the ball so clearly that you understand it, that if it were to suddenly become a living creature with a complicated soul, you would be able to sit down with that tennis ball and converse with it. For this look you would know it. For this look you would feel it. I get sore feet for this look. At night with the hot water bottle for this look. I review footage of the game for this look. In the bathroom mirror, my reflection slapped by my reflected hand when my calculations are off. Bathroom blood. Cotton swabs. For this look the phone doesn’t ring, and when it does I do not answer.
* * *
My new favorite look is my “Rebecca” look. I win radio contests for this look. I’m alone a lot for this look. Work friends and family friends. Part-timer. Always a little overweight but trying to lose it for this look. I’m embarrassed by my large breasts for this look. Secret Vibrators. Romance Novels. For this look I call KGRS. Number ten when “Bye Bye Love” plays. One week all expenses paid to Cancun. “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” for this look. I vacation by myself for this look. Empty seat beside me on the jet plane. Two tickets to the show waiting in the hotel bedroom. I stay inside for this look. I give all my attention to mosquitoes for this look. For this look the salt air reeks like the shell of a dead clam. Gag. Lip balm application. For this look the beach hut does not receive enough light. Depressed in two days flat for this look. I promise myself I won’t cry for this look. Wine spritzers and chatting to Manuel the bartender. For this look I decide to walk along the beach until my attitude changes. It is important to take pictures. Important to have stories to tell coworkers and family. I eat saltine crackers for this look. Water bottled by Coca-Cola. Wearing a one-piece, with a swim cap in my JanSport. Imperative swimming in Mexico for this look: Rebecca Promise. I’ve never been to the ocean before for this look. Worry about how I look for this look. Thighs like beast butter. Fat wrapped around the leg bone. Hateful thoughts. Lump tits. Double chin. Always show a positive attitude for this look. Hide the rest for this look. Walk away from families and skinny kid selling bags of mangoes for this look. Walk farther than I’d ever imagined for this look. For this look I sweat out a sweet smell. And come to the rocky end of the beach for this look. Pick my way fatly across the rocks for this look. Wide skin going red. Shameful to fart. Sunglasses over regular glasses. A little alcove in the rocks for this look. A man appears for this look. I hyperventilate for this look. Man with walking stick and nothing else. Big dangling balls. For this look I say, “Sorry! Sorry!” and almost fall back into the rocks. For this look the man says, “No. It’s fine. Be careful.” For this look the man begins to dress and says, “You are welcome to use this spot. Everybody uses this spot for the transition.” Yellow shorts. For this look the man says, “I’m on my way. It’s all yours. The beach is just on the other side.” Nimble from rock to rock and away from view for this look. Whale in a one-piece. Pink toenails. For this look I think something terrible happened when I first see the beach. Naked people everywhere. For this look I think about turning around and leaving the nude beach and never swimming in the ocean. For this look I don’t do that. Unfurl my towel in the sunniest spot. Step out of my swimsuit. Unpeeled for this look. Tiny black body hairs for this look. And nobody looking for this look. Smiling for this look. Sea spray. And for the first time in my life, went in.