The bad news: My Easter tulips are dead; Albuquerque is languishing under one of the highest pollen counts in the nation as of this writing; and my three-year-old has taken to sleeping with my belt as a memento of Mommy (who is right in the next room).
The good news: I have unraveled the secrets of The Persian Den of Sin. Were there secrets? I’m not actually sure. Louis was pretty forthcoming, even going so far as to explain how the vacuum cleaner works. But was there a bunch of weird shit? Yes! There was.
When I arrived, Louis was knee deep in watercolor bird portraits. I recently discovered that if you name a bird, Louis can watercolor it into existence. He can probably paint birds faster than you can name them, unless you’re one of those birders. I asked for a rosy finch around breakfast time and by 2:00 pm, le voila. This seemed kind of odd to me. But probably just because I don’t know how to paint or draw (despite my brief, fraudulent stint at art school.)
Louis had also placed a gigantic wooden beam across the entryway, so that people don’t just stumble in and get murdered in the neck with an arrow (which he shoots from his bedroom to the target in the den).
Here’s a pomegranate he killed.
Once Louis put down his paint brush and assured me that no harm would befall me, we commenced with the interview. First, I wanted to hear tell of the history of the Persian den. Persia was a land rich with history after all, so I imagined a den named after it must also stretch back to antiquity.
Wrong. Turns out the Persian Den of Sin is the love child of a homemade game of Twister and a song title by a cowboy rapper poet.
(Speaking of guitars. Look at this huge guitar and the tiny case beside it. How weird is that? Louis explained that he doesn’t try to cram his guitar in there, the little case is for Mari’s mandolin.)
I asked Louis how he feels about Persian current events, basically events in Iran.
“I’m not too up on Persian current events. Is Xerxes dead?” he answered.
After an awkward pause, I asked him just how authentic this den is in its representation of Persian vices.
I learned that occasionally they smoke a hookah down there. They shoot bow and arrow, burn cardboard in the fireplace (recycling it into fire, as Louis says) and they roast a lot of S’mores. In the winter they were S’more’ing it up everyday. S’mores with one marshmallow, two marshmallows, giant marshmallows and sundry candy bars. (All of that experimentation, and S’mores Classico is still Louis’s favorite.)
As Louis prattled on about all the different kinds of S’mores a person can make, I thought to myself, “These vices are not really historically accurate to ancient Persia.”
I asked Louis if he was planning to research Persian vice in the future.
“I suppose so,” he said.
Then I thought…I get it. It’s not about ancient crimes and Elamite debaucheries. What’s going on down here is more stylistic. Like Persian Gothic. Look at this corn for instance:
Louis grew it himself from the kernels of a decorative corn ear that once beautified his childhood home. It’s called laser corn, which is particularly creepy when you think of laser as a light emitting device that uses electromagnetic radiation for optical amplication. He believes it’s popcorn, but he’s never popped it. (Yes, I know they didn’t have corn in Persia, but if they did, it would have been opulent and freaky, just like this.)
Then there’s his partially-finished cardboard bird head masks/costumery. He has fashioned a toucan head and a macaw head that he will soon be wearing around town, terrorizing children and confusing drunken ornithologists. He doesn’t admit that is his intention. He says he is making them “just to wear around.” This struck me as full-on Persian Gothic.
By the way, I asked Louis what, in his estimation, is the most evil bird in the world. “It’s the cow bird,” he said, “a trickster bird that lays eggs in other birds’ nests so that someone else will raise them.” Once the imposter hatches, he pushes all of the other legitimate eggs out of the nest. Then he continues to grow, often much taller than the mama bird, so that she has to bend over backwards (literally) to feed it. Which she does, Louis explained, because she thinks this homicidal-monster cow bird is her very own chick.
I concurred that this was pretty evil. “There might be other evil ones (birds) too,” Louis said.
Back on topic–Persian Gothic. Check out this vacuum cleaner. I asked Louis what that meant. I thought maybe there was another vacuum cleaner that looked just like this one nearby. No, he said. It’s called that because it runs on both solar and nuclear power. This made me think of the whole steampunk genre and how maybe the next hot literary strain will be Persiannuclear.
And how about this jar? Louis claims it was the “spinner” for their homemade Twister game. I don’t know if they spun the jar or shook it, but it looks sinister in a primitive Persepolis kind of way.
Then I got a closer look at some of the wall art displayed in the den. First there was this red handkerchief printed with an insect identification guide. The scarlet hue and hints of pestilence is very Persian Gothic. Louis said it was Mari’s handkerchief from Boy Scouts, which I thought was super weird. “Maybe it was Girl Scouts,” he said a little later.
If you look closely at the modern-day, tapestry-style print hanging above the couch, you’ll notice gothic and grotesque details like this:
Which side is who on? What’s with the smoking gun? Did the fox just shoot someone? Was it that little dead mouse in the lower right corner?
Finally there was this poster featuring flowers and cogwheels and implorations to STRIKE and OCCUPY! I wanted to tell Louis all of the ways this could apply to Iranian past and current events, but I didn’t. In the end I decided it was just some wanton propaganda to make flowers look good and machines look bad.
He also took a moment to pose with his bewitching, anachronistic corn.
So there you have it–my perplexing and dazzling tour of the Persian Den of Sin, hotbed of the new Persian Gothic. When I asked Louis how his housemates feel about the room, he said Mari is into it but the rest of them are pretty indifferent.