Excerpt: "Kennedy High"
The school was a sagging public husk, the color of dead trees, and now served as the scratch paper for urban-tribal grafitti tagging battles, squatting cubby holes for the Deadweight refugees of the endless economic recess. Frayed steel reinforcements wormed out like bone fragments from fractures in the concrete. The layout itself was indistinguishable from a prison; high barbed walls and claustrophobic passages, CCTV panopticon of a since-failed mini police-state. Since handed on the torch of civ-lib infringement to far more menacing off-balance sheet tentacles of Gnossis and the Olympian cabal of information-financial empires who’d hollowed their nation state Titan-parents into a North American Weimar Republic. The school was an ironic apotheosis of 80’s apocalyptic riot paranoia and resultant fear for children’s safety, infamously designed, like other Cali schools, by the San Quentin architect. Bullet proof polycarbonate windows the size of police car dividers. Several glass panes had been chiseled out of their cavities, leaving random empty sockets of jagged concrete, like the methed-out mouth of a stage four wyre addict. The impervious quartz probably serving now as anti-riotpolice riot shields in guerilla firefights against Cybersec’s drone paramilitary. The school’s star spangled banner was somehow yet waving despite the surrounding entropy, flying bright amongst the red glare of car fires and distant artillery skirmishes burning the night an eternal crimson twilight, some grand sardonic District Ten joke biled up by its collective subconscious. It was nice to see that Americans could still pull together to accomplish great things.
The bombed-out factor of Kennedy High was extreme, even among the municipal dereliction all around, and the rubble lay with a certain archaic mothy stillness that suggested it had been hit long before the Intellectual Property Wars or the Plebland Riots. Caused, perchance, by some unforeseeably Gaiagenic Black Swan disaster turned armchair humanitarian sink, or more likely, a stray Killerhunter missile whose iffy slave-labe North Korean QA allowed a buggy AI to swing AWOL. Or, perhaps, active human malfeasance, the only commodity in abundance nowadays. Whatever the culprit, the truth was now redacted from the universe’s cache by the sandblasts of time. The digital media footprint of the event equally vanished beyond the one-hundred-forty character memory horizon, eroded by a half-century’s outsourcing of mental faculties to ubicomp. History washed away like unnoticed dead bodies swept down the Hudson amongst shoals of shredded bank paper, to be swallowed by the vast sea of last-moment’s Shiny #trend, the bitrotting remains of actual journalism soundbytten to meaningless shreds by bottom-dwelling clickwhore feeding frenzies and corporate reputation-scrubbers.
Dad was a company man. Put in the hours to keep our sterile McBoat afloat. Grafted his brain onto his Flexbook ‘Maginepad. Coming up with new names for the same flavor of coffee. Played checkers with spreadsheets trying to eat the red tokens with the black. Trim the fat. “Stanford and Dillingham are bluest of blue chip. A collapse there has virtually negative probability, it’s a Sigma seven-plus event. It is more likely that the sun won’t come up tomorrow than Stanford and Dillingham will go under.” I looked outside, the sun buried under metric fuckloads of pollution and the black fog of class war, devouring the sky like nuclear winter. Thought, “Gee, maybe the house gave you the wrong odds on that one.” Maybe that was the point. Perhaps for a moment I understood what it meant to “sell short”: to gamble that an enterprise will fail. The Real Money People had their chips stacked on civilization rolling snake eyes.
You knew it was bad when the power realty agents in their pink Miu Miu and their Emu Egg fertata open-house hors d’oeuvres were pulling up like lost Eurasian-Agg tourists in District 10, polishing the turd-colored Section 8 housing with pointless Premium Web holotours, charging more TorrentCoins for a three-mouseclick credit check and “processing” fee than it would cost to buy all four stories of rust-bleeding cinderblock.
He tried to explain “net present value” to me once. The memory itself is a smear of numerati-speakage; labyrinthian CDO cash flows deluging mean variance voodoo wrapped around paradoxes like “time value of money”, and, somehow extricated from the intractable Cthulu-knottage of number theoretics a single dollar output, like some system-analysts’ Houdini escape act. It was at that moment I’d come, fully and irrevocably, to the conclusion that the art of finance was fundamentally the art of escape, an axiom corroborated by the fact that the previous two false-alarm Global Meltdown/Looting double features had gone off without a single senior-tranche indictment.
“See, Krash, this is how much we’ll be worth in 30 years, adjusted for 2050 dollars.” So many trailing zeros, like strung pearls, typefaced in sixty-point custom minted “Legal Tender” font, as if dressing the projection in dark suit and red tie might infuse it with truth. Portfolio graphed in interlocking Gaussian-Copula curves of gold and azure, accelerating exuberantly beyond the bounds of the finite spreadsheet’s gridded money-time continuum, like the exponential stairways to Singularity heaven trumpeted at some Silicon Valley technovangelist summit, before the tech collapse 2.0 and San Fran Revolts. Poetically, by 2050, there would exist no dollars with which to measure one’s “net present value”, and all those dead president and cryptohologram-etched cotton rectangles would be cold ash residue left by a trashcan fire or woven into post-post-modernist kilts, or preserved in vacuum-sealed zero-humidity Pluto museum vaults like original papyrus gospels archived in the bowels of the Vatican. Money to be preserved, rightfully, as the most holy documents of 20th Century America’s true religion.
Dad dealt in, traded futures. Like the financial barons, bankers, who were also in the business of trading futures. They traded the futures of the next generation away for a few more billions, a few more zeros on the Excel scoreboard, a few more pearls to string on the plastic-stuffed empty manikin of a trophy wife, a few more summerings in Cayman Island tax haven/resorts. That was his problem. He was in the business of futures in a world that was rapidly becoming very post-future. Generation Hex was the sledge-hammer pendulum swing about to be reeled in by our so-called “parents”, who left us to wallow in the ash of a squandered Golden Age. The life draining Great American Lie of The Future was overdue for a hard-takeoff iconoclasm by the post-future bastard children.
Later mom and I discovered he wasn’t worth those 2.4 million 2050 dollars. Dad was very mark-to-model. Ran off to mark Icelandic models in some Plutocrat Enclave’s playland he’d managed to cocksuck his way into, discarded mom and me like last-season’s smart phone, and left us to pick up the pieces of his mid-life crisis “family phase”, when I was fourteen.
He never called me Krash, I made that part up. I was just another statistic in an itemized list of yearly deductables, a “1.2 kid” checkmark in some misplaced aspiration toward American-gothic middle class normalcy that had curdled into mocked TV cliché decades ago. But in Generation Hex, I wasn’t just the wrong bubble in some multiple-choice exam. In Generation Hex, I was Krashkoarse, one of the elite hackers resisting the Puppetmasters, the future-selling bastard fathers of the world. In Generation Hex, I mattered.