Art by mail: Barney Frank, King of the Pacific Salmon

Postcard collage of Barney Frank (king of the Pacific salmon) and the coastline

Message on postcard:
01. Hi Iona! You requested a postcard “the weirder the better”, so you get Congressman Barney Frank, King of Pacific Salmon. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Frank while camped near the beach on a windy and moonless night.

02. Around three in the morning I was awakened by an otherworldly noise that seemed to rise and fall with the waves. A sound like the cacophony of ten thousand voices warbling and gulping in unison. Through the trees I could see an eerie light glowing where I knew the beach to be. Of course I went to investigate.

03. The noise got louder and louder. As I approached the beach I worried that I’d made an unwise choice. In the wan light I could see beads of sweat on my forearms in spite of the chill wind. Soon I reached a bluff overlooking the shoreline, where I saw countless thousands of Pacific Salmon gathered ’round what must have been millions of glowing fish eggs. On the periphery of the gathering was an old boombox sucking down D-cell batteries and blasting Foghat.

04. That noise — the fish were trying to sing along to Foghat. And in the center of the gathering was Barney Frank, perched atop a wave-lapped throne before the majestic, glowing eggs. Lit from below by the bioluminescent gametes, Frank raised a bejeweled scepter and began to chant: “Slow ride… Take it easy…”

05. It was then that my footing gave way. One moment I was nodding along to the chant, the next I was tumbling down the sandy bluff. When I came to rest on the beach all I could hear was the wind and the surf and the boombox. The chanting had stopped, and all eyes were upon me, broadcasting  a mix of piscatorial terror and anger.

06. But then a voice thundered out of the night: “Leave the surface-man be!” It was Barney Frank! I recognized his voice from C-SPAN, but something was different. I later learned that Barney Frank’s gill protectors, which he wears in public life but had removed for the ceremony, have a slight but noticeable effect on his vocal chords. “This intruder means no harm,” Frank continued, “and so we will teach him the secrets of our fishy ways.” The King of the Pacific Salmon waved his scepter, and a black mechanical whale breached the surface of the ocean. “Come, surface-man, and follow me Jonah-like to the deep.” And so I did, but secrets are secrets and I have to leave it there.

If Americans found no clear answers, they at least asked the right questions.

Detail from reverse side: Related text that I glued in.