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1 19 95 59 9- Bb An Alternate An alternateHistory history TEXT BY MICHAEL BACCAM Text by Michael Baccam KNEZOVICH ILLUSTRATIONS BY STEPHEN illustration by Stephen Knezovich



In 2012, Sarah Wesseler asked if I wanted to work with a visual artist for a Satellite Magazine collaboration project. I said I wanted to work with this guy Steve [unpronouncable last name: ka-neso-vitch?] who makes weird collages. Knezovich and I threw some ideas around, most of which involved pawning tasks that we’d normally do onto the other person (i.e., I would select source materials for the illustrations; he would cherry pick text from said materials for me to turn into written stories; and so on). I bought some issues of Life from 1959 and all of the National Geographics for that same year, and Steve cut out one-hundredfifty text snippets from those magazines. He told me to do whatever I wanted with them and that he’d make the collages based on the stories they inspired. I had some ideas about children turning into motorcycles, old people stuffed into cannons, and Germans caught in a whistleroom. I tried writing a single narrative, a braided narrative, gibberish. I tried a collage approach, spreading the

half-inch snippets on my kitchen table and using packaging tape to stick different combinations of words to blank pieces of paper. I asked Steve to send me the text again because I ruined the first copies. Eventually, I decided to use real headlines from 1959 for each month. The stories contain some true details (Nixon’s trip, Foster’s attempt at the motel pool, etc.) but with other elements thrown in. Almost all of them use quotes from the text Steve gave me (everything from entire lines and phrases to a single name or place), and for some, the text was just a starting point and then I veered way off. The stories aren’t meant to be summaries or captions but rather text extracted from imagined National Geographic-like articles. I gave Steve the twelve stories, and he went to work, cutting the 1959 magazines to shreds while creating the collages. This book is the flawed and messy love child of our union. − Michael Baccam

Jan 4

Mechta escapes earth’s gravity

We all watched the television screens and listened, the metal craft trembling in a numbing wash of air and fire. Bogdan stared at the sky, waiting for a rip of light. If Mechta failed, he would have to wait another year. If not, he’d leave Novosibirsk.

Feb 3

American Airlines’ Electra Crashes in NY’s East River

The prisoners were hurled forward violently into their shoulder harnesses. Jolted and spun about, the plane floated weightless in air for a moment before falling, killing all 65 passengers. Korolyov ordered another “controlled crash” to test the impact equipment for Lunik 4.

Mar 15 R o b e r t F o s t e r s e t s record by staying underwater 13m 42.5s

Pulling himself out of the swimming pool at the Bermuda Palms Motel (San Rafeal, California) after nearly 14 minutes, Foster collapsed and had to be revived by EMTs. A former electronics engineer, Foster (age 32) had moved to Hollywood and was marketing himself as a man of the future. “Man is three machines,” he’d said before the attempt. “A tank. A motorcycle.”

apr 15 C a s t r o b e g i n s U S goodwill tour; cops on prowl for boots

The new prime minister of Cuba met with Secretary of State Herter. Before entering the State Department building, Castro demanded that everyone remove their boots. A half hour was spent negotiating the definition of “boots.� U.S. security personnel were allowed to keep their footwear; 23 civilian staff were removed from the premises.

may 24 1 s t h o u s e w i t h b u i l t - i n bomb shelter exhibited (Pleasant Hills Pa)

The compartments are fairly spacious and the beds have springs. In the jukebox of “The Pit,” four silent records are available. Two have beeps, the others have only needle scratch. “After, we’re going to record our own music,” Bill says. “But we have to wait.”

Jun 8

1st official “missile mail” lands (Jacksonville FL)

Summerfield proclaimed the missile launch from the U.S. Navy submarine a groundbreaking moment. “California to DC in only a couple hours,” he said. Janice Hughes of Palatka was impressed. “I like the little parachutes,” she said. “Maybe someday the rockets will land right on our porches.” The cost to mail a letter will be four cents domestic and eight international.

Jul 29 V P R i c h a r d N i x o n visits southern Siberian city

Nixon was given a tour of the hydroelectric station and treated to a ballet in the evening. Though Novosibirsk was a town of unpaved roads, freely roaming livestock, and wood houses reminiscent of Depression-era shacks, he was enamored of it and its people. Before leaving the next morning, he stopped the motorcade in the town center, stood on the hood of his car, and gave an impromptu speech. The vice president thanked his hosts, complimented the town’s technological advancement, and then declared that he would seek to ban promotional cheesecake. The people cheered for five minutes.

Aug 13 D i s c o v e r e r 5 l a u n c h e d into polar orbit

The sailor at the control console took a last look at the television screen and then at his checklist. The chief officer said, almost laconically, “Push the pickle.” The sailor’s thumb went down, and the spy satellite on the screen dissolved into a cloud of smoke.

Sep 14 S o v i e t U n i o n ’ s L u n i k 2 is 1st spacecraft to land on the moon

His robot creation, hurled aloft on raging streamers of fire, finally reached its destination. It was the first time a manmade object had impacted the moon. Both the Soviets and Americans had already flown by but missed their target. Sikorsky smiled. “It’s so easy now,” he said. “Like a practice flight with models.”

Oct 18 F a r s i d e o f M o o n seen for 1st time, compliments of USSR’s Lunik 3

Bogdan took 29 photos on October 8. He processed the film, let it dry, scanned it, and began transmission to Moscow. He waited for a response as Lunik drifted back toward Earth. Command sent an error message and asked him to resend the photographs. Bogdan kept pushing the button. On October 18, they sent their last transmission: “17 photos secured.” Bogdan asked which ones, but he received no reply.

Nov 14 H a w a i i ’ s K i l a u e a volcano erupts

As the earthquakes subsided, we heard reports of lava pouring from the crater. Someone said the trees had sparked bright yellow and disintegrated. At the base of the volcano, Sikorsky was distraught. The crew he had hired to recover Lunik had fled. He headed toward the dock and disappeared into a ship’s cabin. The lava carried the boats to the ocean, and we watched as they melted, descended straight down, masts upright.

Dec 22 D a n i s h C o m m u n i s t s sent to jail

The East German spies were sentenced to five years in prison. During the trial, prosecutors accused the spies of brainwashing orphans and turning them into military fighters. One of the kids, whom the press began to call “Baby Ricky� on account of his tan skin, testified that the Communists had strapped lights to his eyes and made him blink in Morse code in order to communicate with the other children.

baccam g e o c i t i e s a d d r e s s MB wishes he were a little bit taller. He wishes he were a baller. He wishes he had a girl, he would call her.

knezovich t h e n e w g r a v y c a k e . c o m Language and story play a major role in SK’s work. Through a process











each to



meaning, tell a story, and resurrect a forgotten piece of our printed past.

satellite s a t e l l i t e m a g a z i n e . c a Satellite




magazine focusing on cities, culture,



Each issue features an indepth look at a single city, alongside



and nonfiction. Satellite is based in Toronto.

(c)2013 Neztovich and Bocam Layout and design by Michael Baccam Cover by Stephen Knezovich


An Alternate History

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