charlotte wall

King and Kubrick

King and Kubrick

People long-in-the-tooth hover in pairs, waiting impatiently. Their scalps are coated with thick films of ever-drying Rogaine, and they scuffle around in orthopedic sneakers that hide gout-ridden feet. Ten million wrinkles stretch and compress in small talk. 

These people have planned a visit to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, and they have been promised a ghost.


When we think of vacation, we think of places where lush gardens meet golf courses and kiss swimming pools under the upper hand of palm trees. We picture cocktails shaded by paper umbrellas and glassy pool tiles wetted by overflowing, chlorinated swells. Islands where waterfalls feed sparkling ponds and exotic plants lead the way to white beaches.

For Americans, these visions of vacation originated in the suburbs of Southern California.

No One Dies Alone

I pray on airplanes.

Two times—once right before takeoff and once after landing. I say one Hail Mary and one Our Father. I cross myself the way I was taught, the way I have since I was young. I don’t believe in God anymore, at least not in the proper, liturgical sense. I don’t know exactly when it changed. Maybe after I watched Sister Beyeman march to the squirming eight-year-olds during Mass to scold them. Maybe it was the triumphant anger on her face when she caught them giggling to each other as the fumbling priest shakily bowed to the altar, a wrinkled hand gripping the edge of the wood.

Seeing is Believing

"The pasture’s crows standing at angles, turning up patties to get at the worms underneath, the shapes of the worms incised in the overturned dung and baked by the sun all day until hardened, there to stay, tiny vacant lines in rows and inset curls that do not close because head never quite touches tail. Read these.” 

That’s how “The Pale King,” an unfinished novel by David Foster Wallace, begins. Or more accurately, that’s where Wallace’s editor decided it would begin.

I See the Light

Disconnected, no longer perceiving the world through your own senses, the world gleams brighter, seems more interesting and hums more surreally. You feel the energy of your surroundings as they move you and form brilliant waves, amplifying every process in your mind and dampening the air with a heavy, almost liquid consistency. You zip through the universe atthe speed of light. Lysergic acid diethlamide (LSD) is a psychedelic drug, commonly known as acid, that causes users to experience hallucinations—ones that vary drastically from user to user, and may even affect those with color blindness.

Face the Vaxx

Imagine being the parent of a five-year-old with childhood leukemia. You feel as though the attention you pay to your son’s happiness is more important than your career, your hobbies, or your personal goals. You strive for a balance between carefully managing his health and granting him the freedom to roam and dream. Communicating to him and to others in your life the implications of his cancer—not to mention fielding the sentiment of pity that inevitably comes your way—is a daily task that requires bravery and patience. No matter how much you worry about him, your greatest hope is that he enjoys each new day as it comes. 

Control Freaks

Barack Obama has stayed busy in office: He fabricated his birth certificate to feign his American citizenship, held “death panels” to decide who would live and who would die under Obamacare, mandated contraceptives for religious institutions in order to destroy religious liberty, blasted the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig offshore to rally support for his environmental agenda, organized Syrian gas attacks to prompt conflict in the Middle East, called for the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre to further gun-control lawmaking, and also instituted internment camps in which to place any and all Americans who resist his decisions—allegedly.

Behind the Heart-Shaped Sunglasses

Today, many recognize the line, “Light of my life, fire of my loins,” as the hook from Lana Del Rey’s song “Off to the Races.” However, those who have actually read Vladimir Nabokov’s masterpiece, Lolita, know it is the book’s opening line. Those familiar with both find Del Rey’s allusion offbeat since the references seem to suggest that she sees herself as the young “nymphet,” Lolita.