Something is Rotten in the State of Pennsylvania
Notes on the Specter of Violence Haunting the Eaton Township Weismart
the road from philadelphia to tunhannock erupts into a tableau of arborescent violence; hosts of dryads weaving reds, oranges and yellows, ghost girls reaching out through limbs to arms to branches to fingers to leaves. city-clamor trickles out into a prelapsarian expanse, eden in america. the northeastern region of this country is sunken deep into its hauntings like an anchor in brine. spirits teem and swarm in every direction, seep into every cobblestone street, every brick in every wall and well. albion’s appleseeds spread out beyond the sterile expanse of the atlantic, planting into the fallow loam and sprouting up as cults, lost colonies, warring tribes. even the first pilgrims themselves evoked the fallen angel azazel from frayed pieces of parchment to serve as navigator and commander of their barques, leading them to a new jerusalem of pine and tar.
these thoughtforms materialized and took shape as our car hurtled towards the eaton township weis market in late autumn; the grocery store in which randy stair, better known by the nom de plume “andrew blaze”, barricaded himself and three coworkers inside then blew them apart with two pistol pump shotguns before turning them on himself. blaze was a middlingly popular youtuber and animator of “ember’s ghost squad”, a series named after and starring various reskins of the “danny phantom” character ember mclain. ember’s ghost squad chronicles the lives of several troubled teenagers who in the act of a violent death, either by their own hands or the hands of another, become giant ghost girls, a troop of disintegrated terrorists waging war against all of humanity by “recruiting” others who have been wronged and tormented by society. as he wrote on the official website: “lost causes who finally earn their chance to be who they truly are make the EGS one of the strongest squads in the afterlife”.
stair stands apart from the glut of contemporary mass shooters in the sheer output of media he created to approximate his ultimate vision, a gesamtkunstwerk of scorn. where he may have lacked the piercing insight and calculation of adam lanza, randy made up for in pure, infernal rage. every act of creation was propelled by sheer ressentiment, firmly guided by a dual practice of hatred for life and desire for death. andrew blaze found zeal in the hope that a heroic death would point to a toon valhalla, phalanxes of 2D valkyries soaring through the empyrean, soaring back down to earth to pull the elect up into their ranks. he held nothing but vitriol for the existence that clipped his wings and kept him entombed in the mire of clay-born inanities, the daily psychic rape imposed by civilization, dying by a thousand cuts and waking up scarless the next morning. he held a particular hatred for his own physicality and a love of the feminine, not from a position of transgender dysphoria, but instead from a deep dread of the body entirely, a rejection of fucking, food, flesh and all other the baggage of the material. becoming-girl and becoming-ghost as one in the same, striving for the angelic form of androgyne seraphita through the transmutation of blood to ink.
the sublime is exemplified by an overriding of the rational faculties of discernment, the moment of the mind’s meeting with holy terror in all its reverence and repulsion. the sublime is not the beautiful, harmonious arrangement of nature in repose, it is the unnerving torpor of a sinking ship, the snowflake shapes of broken window panes after an earthquake. a fraction of this feeling suffused the act of crossing the threshold into the air-conditioned lobby, each of our circulatory systems seized by chains of lightning pulses, eyes soaked in the phosphorus fluorescence. the site in which stair’s final expiation was carried out was stunning in its combination of banality and extremity; identical to every other podunk greengrocer across the world, but suffused with a sinister charge like nowhere else. everything average looked alien, a retroactive deja vu that felt like at any moment another shooter could walk through the door in broad daylight. the idle time watching townies ambling about the various aisles felt like aeons, each breath gripped tightly against the chest. each shoefall was met with scores of eyes, slate-dead eyes etched with disdain upon realizing our reason for being there. two golem-like store workers began to lazily trail behind us, cankles slinking across the linoleum like dead weights. we made a loop around the entire store attempting to conjure a totem of that night from bags of chips, squeaking cart wheels, decades old pop radio whistling from crackling speakers like spectral siren calls.
to lose the tail from our monstrous host, we slipped into the back stockroom, sleepwalking through bumper doors into the drab innards of the employee area. strewn, sticky soda cans on particle board tables made way to OSHA posters and bent chairs, the electric feeling tripling in weight. we searched for some sort of sign that we had entered the hot-point of intensity, half-expecting to stumble upon a tableaux of bodies, a memorial poster, a starburst of dried blood and brain matter that had been overlooked, but nothing indicated that we were anywhere aside from an unremarkable supermarket in a rural town. excitement dissolved into vague shame, the sobering cognizance of a perverse voyeurism undergirding our sojourn, disappointed atrocity tourists. we considered making our leave, until one of us went into the restroom, emerging with an employee name tag and lanyard that had been hanging from a stall hook like a charged talisman. with this new understanding, we purchased an orange and ate it in the parking lot, decorating the rind with cigarette butts and soil.
in the following months i found myself settled back into my home, driven to dive back into the aethyr of randy stair’s mundus imaginalis. poring through spotty bitchute playlists, i discovered a video entitled “Supermarket Tour- The Morning Before the Shooting”, in which he charted the course of his impending ritual. after just a few minutes of watching, the familiar current of malevolent, vertiginous energy pulsed through my veins as i watched andrew blaze the exact same trail as we had followed, winding through aisles of canned vegetables, meandering into the stocking area, stopping to linger by the breakroom microwave. the fluid in my spinal cord felt cold and metallic as he walked into the same bathroom in which the nametag had been found, turning the camera to the mirror to reveal his gaunt, determined face. It was as if we had been compelled into the same ambit like comets tearing their ellipses across space, born under bad stars. perhaps we had even received direct communication from the squad on the other side, a mocking lilt of “i’m going ghost!” ringing in our heads, a transmission from outside temporality, an army of lost souls.
Drawings by PEG from Randy’s Supermarket Tour video