“Black and White” by Alan Valle Monagas

An apple too far to see,
Grew on the highest tree.
Forbidden, beyond delight,
Delicious, yet so unripe.

We do not mix, you and I.
I’m dark and brown,
You’re blonde and white.
I see all of the darkness.
You see all of the light.
I’m as strange as they come.
You’re as simple as can be.

We make our choices.
We choose our poisons.

“I am not normal babe,
Your words don’t hurt me,
My bones are made of stone,
Broken by ghosts.”

Without darkness,
Without light.

Love, with a broken heart.
Whose ruptured valves bleed wildly,
On countless pieces of clothing.

I will listen,
To your musings,
To your pain.

I will remember,
All you do,
All you say.

Even if I say I decided,
To remember to forget,
You and I.

I want you to be the Radha,
To my ailing Krishna.
I want you to be the Mary
To my broken Christ.

I would die for you,
If our lives were on the line.
Take a bullet for you,
My partner in crime.

Now say, those magic words,
“Nothing, no nothing, is okay.”
Except for You and I,
And our happily distorted lives.

And on the day we die,
We travel past phantoms,
Who wait on broken benches,
They live outside with children,
Surrounded by these stone walls,
Overrun with vines, verdure.
In nature’s waiting room,
Under the clouds and sky.

Behold!
A terrifying gothic gate.
Black walnut doors, obsidian
Devil clasps. You knock on the door.

Orange and black-striped beasts,
Are shackled in the dungeon.

We will meet inside,
A magnanimous cathedral.
Lit candelabra and golden goblets,
Filled to the brim with Christ’s blood,
Which spills on velvet red rugs.
And a fine, old, gentleman,
Gestures at us from a stall.
He welcomes us and whispers
Into your ear. I cannot hear.

“Welcome, to the life inside.
where all our secrets reside.”

Alan Valle Monagas

“The Fool” by Alan Valle Monagas

Oh pathetic, don’t let your mind wander,
On film strips, in moments that went ‘yonder.
Replay. Strips over and over, in mind.
I Magnify and Project, a universal prospect!

Light, “It had to be so,” the Fool treads through,
Anxiety, tears, virginity; sinews
Per her Heart, bends in waves for another,
Or maybe she yearned to go, discover.

Why would you blame her? Eclipse, Lucifer.
You are not the Most High, Fool, hear.
Your courage drove you in your first step,
Yet you tread confidently in ignorance.

Alan Valle Monagas

“Ghosts” by Alan Valle Monagas

Ghosts in my path beckon at me from a window,
They’ve written songs, we have sung in the past.
Simpler where times when I did not comprehend,
By the time my sight focused, they vanished again.

Experiences a many have passed since then,
And the ghosts they beckon at me again,
I cannot lay the blame to them for a friend,
For a friend has cost them the other’s end.

As I went up the staircase the thought wavered
Through my mind: I used to see you everyday
And I have not seen you in over three blue moons.
How many forests have fallen and risen since then?

Words read, words mold, and words have changed you.
Cease your beckoning, the judgment won’t turn,
You knew the problem and chose to support it
Becoming the very thing you hated, in life, a ghost.

Alan Valle Monagas

“Eulogy” by Alan Valle Monagas

Our homes were mutual, as blood brothers,
Despite not having spoken to one another
For over fourteen years. Destiny ties a lace,
Between the children of a growing race.

Always sickly, as a child in the academy.
A black sheep, our brother, our friend.
Playing foundations to lay down grooves,
When we reunited over the moon.

A pragmatic idealist, always carrying gifts,
Whose actions nobody could ever comprehend.
A trust, a lack of concern, that lasts for days.
Degrees could not measure your mentality.

When we reunited
You gave me a reminder, a life lesson:
A forgotten gesture of kindness.
A treasury of forgotten memories.
Imagined by our innocence.

And then,
A closed casket.
A prayer for our forgotten brother.
A stare from his widow,
An invitation by his sister.

Why are we still here?
Dominated by our fears.
God, that art in Heaven,
Why are we all so fucked up?

Alan Valle Monagas

“Snake” by Alan Valle Monagas

You can never change who you really are.
You were born with a track.
You cannot stray too far,
You are the wise snake in a sack.

You are at peace with what you have become,
Without regrets in your fake independence,
To sign those papers and away goes the trance!
Four years that have been drowned in rum.

Would it be sane to envy that which slithers?
Whose humanity has withered?
To succumb to the vices of the Blind One,
And wield the weapons of Ba’al?

A bullet has been delivered.
Now continue to slither.

Alan Valle Monagas

“Foreword” by Alan Valle Monagas

Immoral and lawless,
A state of constant vigilance.
Witch-hunts, secret police,
No freedom, no independence.

Your body, your mind, your soul,
All belonged to the state.
Monetary libertinism,
In techno-feudalism.

Geniuses are conscripted,
To strengthen the divide.
More weapons and gadgets,
And expensive medicines.

Cameras and microphones,
Propaganda and drones.
They stole our culture,
And murder our home.

We are the voices of the Earth,
Carrying sparks of consciousness,
Boundless and infinite
Atomic reactions.

Suffering without regrets,
Clouded with cigarettes.
We are what we hate,
And whatever we repress.

Satisfy your desires.

Alan Valle Monagas

A Review of Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park

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PARANOID PARK

My motivation behind watching Paranoid Park was multifactorial. A former friend, who meant a lot to me, left me a collection of their favorite movies on my drive. A person who was always difficult to stereotype or fit into a box, an incredibly bright person who happened to be a skateboarder. They left me these other films: MirrorMask, What Dreams May Come, Milk, Ed Wood, Rebel Without a Cause and The Secret of NIMH. However Paranoid Park and its fascinating title enraptured me, the film caught me at the right time of my life.

Paranoid Park was directed and adapted by Gus Van Sant, the same individual responsible for Elephant, one of my favorite films. The film features many Van Sant staples: symbolic dialogue, tracking shots, uncomfortable close-ups and social commentaries on sexuality.

Before researching the film, I believed the title alluded to a neurotic’s state of mind while wandering in public. However, the film is about a boy’s initiation into manhood. The story follows a skateboarder, Alex, who deals with immense manifestations of guilt, after a traumatic experience. Alex was spending time with outcasts at Paranoid Park, when he takes off with someone and something terrible happens.

Like his name, Alex’s gender is ambiguous. He has long hair, angelic facial features and wears earrings. His appearance and demeanor make him identifiable to audiences of all sexes, a fact which helps us interpret Paranoid Park as being symbolic in nature, or an allegory. You might be tempted to ask, an allegory for what? The answer might please you.

In the film, Jared, Alex’s best friend, chews him out for buying a new skateboard without consulting him beforehand,

JARED: What’d you get a new board for?

ALEX: Because I wanted to try something new.

JARED: Why didn’t you tell me about this?

ALEX: Why would I tell you, it’s just a new board.

………………………………………………………

JARED: I can’t have some fag board riding next to me.


Jared stereotypically acts like a girlfriend who stereotypically complains to their significant other for not consulting them before making important decisions. Our next shot features Jared seductively staring at his passenger seat, at Alex. To further solidify the possibility of Paranoid Park being a queer allegory, Alex deflowers his girlfriend and shows no pleasure while doing so. Alex’s little brother even talks to him about a scene in Napoleon Dynamite, where Napoleon’s grandmother is at the dunes with her girlfriend, but tells her grandchildren she’s with a man.

There are numerous homosexual references in Paranoid Park, anyone familiar with Van Sant’s filmography knows these references are there for a reason. However, I want to argue that Paranoid Park is not simply an allegory for homosexuality, rather an allegory for initiation into a subculture, and the guilt and paranoia provoked by these experiences.

… parents get divorced. There’s other problems, bigger problems, like people dying in Iraq, starving kids in Africa. … You know what I mean, the little problems, they are all just so stupid … I just feel like there’s something outside of normal life, outside of teachers, breakups, girlfriends, like right out there, like outside, there’s different levels of stuff. (Van Sant, 2007)

Besides being a beautifully shot film, Paranoid Park helped me understand skater culture better. The film made me understand why friends believed me to have a skater’s flow, despite not even being able to ollie. As Alex’s dialogue states, skaters tend to be woke and rebellious. They are critical of mainstream culture, warfare, and  the privileges we have because of others’ suffering.

Our relationship with our parents will forever change the way we act inside of society, they are our authority figures and representatives of mainstream culture. They either give us free reign to do as we will, or they pressure us until we explode in rebellion. If we rebel, we learn to do things by ourselves. Paranoid Park is not only an allegory about teenage homosexuality, it is an allegory about teenage rebellion. We all go through experiences which shape us, and make us different. Things we need to hide from our parents, that make us who we are. This is when we become adults.

As a cultural piece, Paranoid Park expresses incredible ideas. “They built the park illegally all by themselves. Train hoppers… guitar punks… skate drunks… throwaway kids… no matter how bad your family life was, these guys had it much worse” (Van Sant, 2007). Anyone outside of society’s approval is an outcast. Paranoid Park expresses how a dysfunctional family life can bring children into the light, which is to say, reality.

We were children who were forced to mature early, exposed to the darkest sides of society, with difficult choices to make. We could “follow our bliss” and struggle in the jungle, or we could follow the paths made for us by our parents; to live a long, boring, yet comfortable life.

Arguably, Paranoid Park’s most pivotal moment is when Alex decides to “ride a train” with a friend by the woods. Alex’s decision to “ride a train” can be interpreted as an initiation experience, when a person makes a choice which will forever change who they are. Certainly, the phrase has a certain homoerotic element to it, with the train being a phallic symbol.

These teenage initiation experiences can be innocent acts which help us find ourselves and to bond with other people. Our first sexual experience, our first time smoking reefer, our first time skateboarding together. They can also be more sinister acts which bind us together: our first time beating another person, our first act of armed robbery, or even an act of unintentional murder. Everyone who carries out an act which differs from the norm gets branded as an outcast. They become dehumanized and become paranoid, because becoming paranoid means becoming an adult in our sick society.

Secrecy is required for our safety. Notice how the skater who was with Alex during the accident never talked to the police. The entire ordeal made Alex an outcast, a member of the park, and simultaneously separated him from mainstream society. The events of the film could even serve as an allegory for a gang initiation, but it works best as an initiation into a subculture.

If you keep frequenting a place like Paranoid Park, eventually something will happen to you. What happened to Alex was one of the worst possible outcomes, his life changed forever as a result. He became disconnected from society, from school and the park claimed his life. As you might or might not have guessed, my friend’s sexuality was an eclectic mystery. She was quiet, and I wonder if she ever went through an experience like Alex’s in Paranoid Park. I can safely say that I did, and I attest to the fact that “nobody’s ever ready for Paranoid Park” (Van Sant, 2007), we just make it there.