"One bite of venom, one little squirt of poison at the time, Rant was training for something big. Getting vaccinated against fear. No matter the future, any terrible job or marriage or military service, it had to be an improvement over a coyote chomping on your foot. " Page 72
"Not everyone enjoys baseball or even fishing, but every person is obsessed with himself. You're your own favorite hobby."
"Most of Party Crashing was just us driving in cars, talking."
"Andy Warhol was wrong. In the future people won't be famous for fifteen minutes. No, in the future, everyone will sit next to someone famous for at least fifteen minutes."
"The young men and women who acquire perfect breasts and muscles before they know how to use that power end up pregnant and mired so close to home. This cycle concentrates the best genetics in places you'd never imagine. Like Middleton. Little nests of wildly attractive idiots who give birth and survives into a long, ugly adulthood.
"Rant Casey just wanted one thing to be real. Even if that thing was stinking with blood and guts."
"Crimes to end all crimes, wars and plagues, preached to be the end of the world. Every year of newspaper announcing another new end of the world."
"'You're our little angel.' Most mothers talk the same way, in the moment when they're still one person with their child."
"That afternoon, Rant quit being to his mother what his "Bear" was to him. That was the real moment he was born. The start of Rant as a real person."
"The big reason why folks leave a small town," Rant use to say, "is so they can moon over the idea of going back. And the reason they stay put is so they can moon about getting out."
"Rant meant that no one is happy, anywhere." Page 12
"Life's greatest comfort is being able to look over your shoulder and see people worse off, waiting in line behind you." pg 13
"Nothing says you have to swallow this," Rant told me. "You can always just die."
“What ‘Typhoid Mary’ Mallon was to typhoid, what Gaetan Dugas was to AIDS, and Liu Jian Lun was to SARS, Buster Casey would become for rabies.”
“This is what church should feel like.”
"You only ever is in the eyes of other folks."
“You grow up to become living proof of your parent's limitations. Their less-than-masterpiece.”
"What bothered Rant was the fake, bullshit nature of everything."
"Beginning with Santa Claus as a cognitive exercise, a child is encouraged to share the same idea of reality as his peers. Even if that reality is patently invented and ludicrous, belief is encouraged with gifts that support and promote the common cultural lies."
"You burn out your brain with rabies. Go all theta-trance-y with driving. You hit something and wake up naked in history."
"What if reality is nothing but some disease?" Page 215
"There's worse ways to be dead than dying."
“Couldn’t you guess that old time gods and saviors like Jesus and Isis and Shiva are just losers with beater Torinos and Mustangs who went party crashing and found a way to ‘sever their origins’? Maybe they all started as real nobodies, and as their reality faded, a new story piled up around them?”
"Do you ever wish you’d never been born?"
"In a world where billions believe their deity conceived a mortal child with a virgin human, it's stunning how little imagination most people display."
"A sexually conflicted thirteen-year-old rattlesnake venom junkie with rabies. It's safe to say that's every father's worst nightmare."
"If just one leader would emerge- Rant Casey or anybody- the arms of us, ready to fight and die, wouldn't we be invincible?"
"I've survived, that, the day I finally meet Death, the two of us will be old, long lost friends. Me and Death, separated at birth." Page 198
"Everyone wants to feel special - attain a special status among their peers - but not too special. Most kids only want to be special the same way their friends are special."
"You're a different human being to everyone you meet." Page 18
"Some people are just born human. The rest of us, we take a lifetime to get there." Page 18
"History is, its just a nightmare. Cut off tongues lying everywhere.."
"To everybody, everybody else is a liar."
"You can get plenty of folks telling the same lie if they got a stake in it. You get everybody telling the same lie and it ain't a lie, not no more"
"How folks lay claim to a loved one is they give you a name of their own. They figure to label you as their property."
"The future you have tomorrow won't be the same future you had yesterday."
"It's compelling that so many cultures practice a meticulous yet transitory art form as a spiritual ritual, prayer, or meditation...Whether it's the Piranski eggs or the sand mandalas of the Tibetan Buddhists, their common theme is to somehow achieve an intense focus and complete absorption of the artist's attention. Despite the fragile nature of the artwork, the process becomes a means of stepping outside the temporal."
"Love is a skill you learn. Like house-training a dog. Maybe a talent you do or do not build up. Like muscle. And if you can't learn yourself to love blood family, then you'll never truly love. Not nobody...If you don't accept your folks for all their worst ways, no stranger can ever measure up."
"In my classroom, I tried to impress on the students that reality is a consensus. Objects, from diamonds to bubble gum, only have value because we all agree they do. Laws like speed limits are only laws because most people agree to respect them. "
"Money you don't work to earn, you spend very quickly."
"It's spooky to consider, us turning teeth into gold and gold into eyeballs. Things in life is either flesh or money, like they can't be both at the same time. That would be like somebody being both alive and dead. You can't. You got to choose."
"Kids grow up connected to nothing these days, plugged-in and living lives boosted to them from other people. Hand-me-down adventures."
"By first believing in Santa Claus, then the Easter Bunny, then the Tooth Fairy, Rant Casey was recognizing that those myths are more than pretty stories and traditions to delight children. Or to modify behavior. Each of those three traditions asks a child to believe in the impossible in exchange for a reward. These are stepped-up tests to build a child's faith and imagination. The first test is to believe in a magical person, with toys as the reward. The second test is to trust a magical animal, with candy as the reward. The last test is the most difficult, with the most abstract reward: To believe, trust in a flying fairy that will leave money. From a man to an animal to a fairy. From toys to candy to money. Thus, interestingly enough, transferring the magic of faith and trust from sparkling fairydom to clumsy, tarnished coins. From gossamer wings to nickels...dimes...and quarters. In this way, a child is stepped up to greater feats of imagination and faith as her or she matures. Beginning with Santa in infancy, and ending with the Tooth Fairy as the child acquires adult teeth. Or, plainly put, beginning with all the possibility of childhood, and ending with an absolute trust in the national currency." pg 61-62
"Each holiday tradition acts as an exercise in cognitive development, a greater challenge for the child. Despite the fact that most parents don't recognize this function, they still practice the exercise. Rant also saw how resolving the illusions is crucial to how the child uses any new skills. A child who is never coached with Santa Claus may never develop an ability to imagine. To him, nothing exists except the literal and tangible. A child who is disillusioned abruptly, by his peers or his siblings, being ridiculed for his faith and imagination, may choose never to believe in anything--tangible or intangible--again. To never trust or wonder. But a child who relinquishes the illusions of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, that child may come away with the most important skill set. That child may recognize the strength of his own imagination and faith. He will embrace the ability to create his own reality. That child becomes his own authority. He determines the nature of his world. His own vision. And by doing so, by the power of his example, he determines the reality of the other two types: those who can't imagine, and those who can't trust."
"A clear corollary formed between sunny weather and the number of boys suffering from painful penile erections. At issue wasn't the penises, but the failure to occlude them while in their turgid state. Furthermore, the district's legal counsel advised that a dress code requiring constraining, modest, fully binding undergarments would be impossible to enforce and serve the negative purpose of drawing increased attention to the issue. Our chief effort intended to deal with the issue of engorged phalluses obliquely and indirectly. Legal counsel advised no direct condemnation of erections on school property. No district representative was to acknowledge or attempt to mask or resolve any obvious erections."
"Rant advocating for us, our demands included a therapeutic, all-hours lunchroom, since it's a known impossibility to eat food and maintain a woody. We asked for nothing short or equal recognition for our biological...but the next word stumped us. Should we say "obstacles"?"Handicaps"?"Disabilities"? This last word, we tortured over. We finally settled on the word "burden," asking for "full and equal recognition of the burden inherent in the male anatomy." Hearing how "burden" sounded fine and noble. "
"Though it was widely rumored that certain students abused medications designed to treat erectile dysfunction, legal counsel advised that no just cause existed for requiring students to submit urine for drug testing. Legal counsel cautioned that, though some tumescence may result from illegally obtained prescription drugs, the majority of genital arousal was naturally occurring and thus protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act."
"Even Party Crashing can get boring if you can't find another team that's flying the designated flag, but at least it's a communal boredom. Like a family."
"Beginning with Santa Claus as a cognitive exercise, a child is encouraged to share the same idea of reality as his peers. Even if that reality is patently invented and ludicrous, belief is encouraged with gifts that support and promote common cultural lies. The greatest consensus in modern society is our traffic system. The way a flood of strangers can interact, sharing a path, almost all of them traveling without incident. It only takes one dissenting driver to create anarchy."
"Music is crucial. Beyond no way can I overstress this fact. Let's say you're southbound on the interstate, cruising along in the middle lane, listening to AM radio. Up alongside comes a tractor trailer of logs or concrete pipe, a tie-down strap breaks, and the load dumps on your little sheetmetal ride. Crushed under a world of concrete, you're sandwiched like so much meat salad between layers of steel and glass. In that last, fast flutter of your eyelids, you looking down that long tunnel toward the bright God Light and your dead grandma walking up to hug you--do you want to be hearing another radio commercial for a mega clearance, close-out, blow-out liquidation car-stereo sale?"
"The 'Baby on Board' events used another type of mishap flag. Understandably, public reaction was somewhat less jolly at the sight of a speeding car weaving through traffic with an infant carrier and baby seemingly forgotten on the roof."
"You study any pretty democracy, from the ancient Greeks forward, and you'll see that the only way each system functions is with a working class of slaves. Peons to haul the garbage so the upper crust can campaign and vote."
"It was Thomas Jefferson who warned us that any nation would always need a frontier as an escape valve or a place to store the perennial tide of lunatics and idiots."
"No shit, there's worse ways to be dead than dying."
"If you'll ponder the though, no one ever closes a thoroughfare due to the death of an individual...Death is a tragic event, but stopping the flow of traffic is always seen as the greater crime."
"On the traffic cameras, the Droolers used to limp around, dragging one leg, slack-jawed, snarling. People who used to be wives, fathers, and even little kids, now--completely gone berserk, lurking in public toilets and department-store fitting rooms with one goal: to sink their spitty teeth into somebody."
"Not to be overly moralistic, but sometimes the death of one person can justify the death of an entire culture."
"The chief argument against the possibility of time travel is what theorists refer to as the "Grandfather Paradox"; this is the idea that if one could travel backward in time one could kill one's own ancestor, eliminating the possibility said time traveler would ever be born--and thus could never have lived to travel back and commit the murder. In a world where billions believe their deity conceived a mortal child with a virgin human, it's stunning how little imagination most people display."
"How lame is this? We really believe a strip of paint down the middle of the road is going to keep us safe. That white or yellow line is some kind of protection."