Taken from eXistenZialist Vol III Issue X

I absolutely adore Tokyo. It's one of the only places I go out in all my erupted glory and bask in the attention that being a nova, particularly an American nova, gets me. I don't even have to display any quantum expression. Just walk down the street and they know you and they love you. I don't know if the rumors are true that the natives are just better at spotting novas than people of other nations but you'd certainly agree with it after being there awhile. I hear if you're a non-Japanese Utopian or a Terat (declared or just suspected) nova you might get a different reaction than that an unaffiliated one, but the Japanese are just uncommonly kind to me.

It's selfish, I know, and I love it anyway. It's pretty spectacular to be given the same treatment as Lemmy Chillmeister, nova rock god, for just being Sherazahde, low-key nova journalist. I get to my hotel and I've got a few people fawning over me from the moment I walk in the doors till the moment I close my room door behind me. I get in the room and I've got they've got everything I asked for the last time I was in town to the exact detail: the strawberries, the kane and saki sashimi, everything. I go out and the street vendors give me free food without me turning on the charm and often flatly refusing to accept anything for a tip. It's not always like this, but it's frequent enough. Plus all the novaphile worshippers that begin flocking around my hotel, or following me, once word gets out that I'm in town. I could probably command them with a single word if I wanted, as I watch them hanging on my every gesture. It's the closest I'll ever get to being true royalty.

This probably sounds odd coming from the woman who hasn't given you a picture of herself yet and keeps a pretty low profile for a nova. Tokyo is the only place I allow this to happen, probably because of just how absurdly extreme the whole affair ends up being. By the time it's over, I sometimes need escorts just to be able to get around the city. Imagine that! Me, a mere journalist, needing an escort! Most of them probably don't even know what I do for a living, it's just exciting to have an attractive, female American nova in town. Within a few days, I've got people dressed up like me, with hair dyed to look like mine or wigs with an approximate color, on the streets clamoring for my attention. It's something else, let me tell you. When I'm in Tokyo, I sometimes feel like Madonna must have at the height of her popularity.

Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. Maybe I'm playing down what really happens. Ironically, though, it’s in this little nest of node-worshipping baselines that you can also find a place called NewGround.

As anyone who is anyone can tell you, two places are considered “The” locations to be if you’re a nova. One is the Amp Room in Ibiza. The other is the Blackburn Hotel in New York. Both are scenes to some pretty eclectic and exotic sights, twisty-pulsing-boys-doing-oral aside. A few nights ago I was actually invited to the Blackburn to attend a performance of the Nova musician Lemmy Chillmeister, and it was something to behold. Not the place itself, mind you, just the party. Lemmy’s fingers are creating riffs the likes of which Eddie Van Halen only has wet dreams of. Everyone is gyrating and singing and you can’t even feel your heart beating. Beverages I can’t pronounce, much less heard of, are being passed around and poured all over everyone. The first I had tasted like a combination of lime juice and rubbing alcohol and immediately strangled my gag-reflex. After that, getting down the one that tasted like cough syrup and vanilla extract was easy. Didn’t do all that much for me getting a buzz, but it felt good to loosen up a bit. Some slam-dancing was involved, and let me tell you it’s quite an experience to slam dance with beings who can throw boulders. We’re lucky that people who can catch thrown boulders were also there or we might've put a few holes into the Blackburn. If nothing else, I can check “experiencing how Wolverine felt during a Colossus ‘Fastball Special’” off the list of things I need to do before I die.

NewGround is pretty low-key by comparison to those places. Think of it as the intellectual’s Amp Room and you’ve got a good idea on what to expect here. You’ve got the standard beatnik by way of technomancer feel of the place, of course, like a beat poet reciting hip-cat verses by way of holography. I know it seems like a contradiction and a colossal clash of taste, but it works, and it works on so many levels that its atmosphere is completely unique. While interesting, that’s not why I feel the need to write about this place.

Although I'm going to have to take Mr. Meehan's (as in James “Prodigy” Meehan, who founded NewGround in a joint endeavor with Solar Solutions) word on it, apparently every published and some unpublished written work crafted by nova creativity is in NewGround's library. In an amusing touch, anything sponsored by Project Utopia is conveniently placed in the fiction section. Also, a vast number of nova crafted artwork is here as well, both as part of a private collection and as part of rotating gallery of artists, pieces you'd have to see to believe. NewGround currently has a piece done by former Utopian Savannah "Aurifex" O'Shea that is nearly beyond description. Of course, when you can magnetize the metal, it’s easy to pull off what is seemingly impossible sculpture. Five concentric rings spinning and revolving around a set of five spheres, each of them in turn revolving and spinning around each other, and all of that hovering a full inch off the base-plate. The genius isn't in the metalworking, but rather in the precise placement of magnetic fields and polarity that allow this device to continue functioning. Not quite perpetual motion, I understand some degree of electrical current is necessary, but no wires or other means of suspension are present.

Ruby and sapphire crystals woven into mind-numbing spirals by Dario “The Avatar” DeMarco. Four unique pieces by Anna “Renaissance” Lei that haven’t been reproduced anywhere else. A chair equipped with private headphones so you can experience the music of Jennifer “Orchestra” D'Lancy, Lucious “Metropolis” Clay, Alejandra, some rare pieces recorded by Sarah “Tenor” Meeks of Seattle, and countless others. Several paintings done by Mr. Meehan himself. This just to name some of what you can see at NewGround, not to mention the design of NewGround itself. Furniture designed to accommodate physical aberration. Strategic grips placed about the high walls and ceilings for the more acrobatically-minded. Intriguing little robot servers that bring your food or drinks silently and smoothly, and, I kid you not, windows that change color and opacity throughout your stay.

Essentially, folks, this is the most comprehensive place to go if you’re erupted to experience the art and literature of homo sapiens novus. It’s breathtaking. I know there are other galleries that have larger collections of each artist, but none that contain such a varied selection of the artists themselves. It’s an absolute must see if you can meet the genetic cover charge.

I know this must sound like cruel masturbation for all my baseline readers, much as any account of the Amp Room or Blackburn parties tend to be for those who can’t get in. And as much as I’m trying to encourage my nova readers to book a flight to Tokyo (or fly there yourself if you got the means) to drop in and keep this place in business, I’ve got another reason to bring up NewGround that is probably going to make me some enemies.

There’s a section of NewGround’s library that is reserved from some of the classics of non-erupted writers, and some pieces of the finest art baseline hands ever created. I have to tell you it’s quite a contrast. Understandably, some novas fashion themselves as artists (and you know who you are) and are just hacks who make a quick buck because they’re a nova artist. The best baseline artists will blow these jokers out of the water. Unfortunately, the demand for good baseline art has decreased with the arrival of nova artists who get the spaces in the museums or the record contracts on their node alone, because nova artists seem to come with a guaranteed audience.

I don’t know if any of you are old enough to remember when the folk musician Jewel put out a book of poetry in 1999, but it caused quite a stir in the poetry community because sure, she was a known songwriter and musician, but hadn’t published in the poetry community yet and here she was with a book. Poets often starve and slave and beg to get individual poems published, then have to self-publish a number of chapbooks before a full-blown book sale is even considered a possibility. Granted, with N-Day a few months previous her book didn’t get much notice as it might have, but the fact that she got a book deal because of her music reputation chapped some serious hides in the poetry community. Trust me, after a few years of being a starving poet reading bits in coffeehouses hoping to drum up an audience, you get bitter when someone is handed success like that. Had Jewel self-published the book the controversy wouldn’t have been there.

Some people will say the money goes where the talent is, and sure, that has truth to it. In the case of Jewel’s book of poetry, it can be debated that the money went where the audience was, ergo, Jewel’s then popularity as a musician was going to garner her book sales from her core audience. The same effect is being seen since N-Day. Nova artists are picked up over baseline ones unless the nova’s work is truly abominable, and unavoidably, over baseline artists who have paid their dues in their field.

When the talent is there, however, it’s another matter entirely. Depending on how you measure artistic greatness (and if any of you pull an Eddie Vedder on me your letter will be promptly shredded and used for my next paper maché project), the scales are unfairly balanced. For example, a relatively average nova artist might produce works considered good or great by baseline standards of ability. Or, if you choose, measuring art on a scale of greatness that knows no category (race, gender, age, species, etc), art produced by nova masters reach a plateau that baseline masters cannot get to. If this sounds similar to last month’s column about nova combatants to some of you, perhaps it’s because there’s a common thread.

I feel for all the baseline artists who’ve found it harder to get their art out there and recognized since nova artists arrived on the scene, having once been a pretty starving artist myself. I say this with full confidence, remembering the exact moment in my unerupted life when I first read Margaret Atwood. I recall the exact sinking feeling upon finishing one of her books that I would never be able to equal what she had just written. Writing something better was never even an issue, I just wanted to be able to write something as good and knew in my little poet’s soul that I wouldn’t be able to do it. It took me several weeks before I had the stomach to pick up my pen again and continue writing. Granted, I did it, but it took some serious effort and I was very close to putting the pen down for good and changing careers. I’d hate to have to be a nova guitarist and try playing some of Lemmy’s riffs, much less do it with normal human dexterity.

I personally think Mr. Meehan keeps NewGround the way it is for two reasons. The first, obviously, is to provide visiting novas a taste of what the quantum-born can produce, a collection of our works and our talents. A comprehensive museum that doubles as a social café and coffeehouse. This, knowing his sneaky Terat mindframe, probably serves to drive home just how vast the differences can be between novas and normal humans. You know, they come in for a cup of java and to hobnob with the academic and artistic crowd, and leave with the subconscious knowledge that they experienced something that the unerupted world can’t offer them.

The other one, more cunning than the above one, is that he’s amassing all of these pieces to protect the unerupted from them. I know you’re thinking, why do you need to protect anyone from art? Well, not protecting them from the art itself, but rather, from having them get discouraged by it. I can think of a few arguments for and against this plan of action, if that’s what he’s doing, but once you visit the place you’re sure to ponder it for a while after leaving.

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