Fantastic Palace a r t wo r k fe a t u re s comics fiction a r t i fa c t s
21st Century Arcadia Mario Hernandez
Welcome to the premier issue of peep, a freeform magazine published twice a year. Submissions and letters to the editor are encouraged. Please send any writing or artwork to peep at the address below. Writing should be typed double-spaced. (If possible, include a computer file on a 3 1⁄ 2" diskette.) Please provide a one or two sentence description of yourself along with your phone number and address. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you want your materials returned. The deadline for the Fall 1994 issue is July 1. Subscriptions are $5 a year and are shipped first class mail ( US $10 overseas). Additional copies of peep cost $3 each (including first class postage). Please send cash, check, or money order to: Michael Kay, 67 Olive Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211. Display advertising is available for future peep issues. For more information, please call 1-718-000-0000 or write to peep. To contact peep write: 67 Olive Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211. Send E-Mail: MikeQue@peep.org peep Staff: Michael Kay-editor & publisher Robert McCormack-associate editor Richard Rubin-associate editor Olive Graphics-production © Michael Kay 1994. All rights reserved. All illustrations and writing in peep are copyright their respective authors. The views expressed in peep are not necessarily those of the publisher. peep was produced entirely on an Apple Macintosh computer using QuarkXPress, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator. Standard text was set in Adobe Minion and Berthold Imago. It was printed by Atlis Graphics & Design of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania on 70# White Cougar Opaque.
artwork on this page by Sally Ross (from “Hôtel Commines, 1988”)
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peep inside features 왘 artwork
Sally Ross Chris Egan Laurie Butler Julie Goodwin Rita Carl Dunn Alex Ross Robert Melee Mia Wolff Jordan Steinberg Robert McCormack Paul Evans
2 3 4 8 11 13 14 18 24 29 30 31
Maladies…/Remembering 50 Francs by Marla Lipschultz
Lintun by Mario Hernandez
Carving a Bird by Katherine Moss
Charlie, The Psycho-Yuppie by Daisuke Suematsu
Arcadia by Dan Graham
Noise in General by Kate Bobby
An Introduction to the Fantastic Palace by Alex Ross
Toxic Copying by Richard von Busack
Robot Models for 1943 by Jon Herder
A Son and His Dog by Patrick Burnson
Balancing Act by Nilka Dunne
All the Tea in Java by Richard Rubin
Manhattan-Mex by Michael Kay
Licorice Jubilee by The Garden Sisters
왗 Front Cover by Rita
Back Cover by Carl Dunn 왘 ... 3
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maladies of occupation and affection Pigalle, 2 p.m. with the semi-confidence of the night still on her mouth vibrating, rose against Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and long descriptions of what he ate for breakfast in Germany while last night, even before street level, his hands already on her hair leading her from the Metro Blanche up Boulevard Clichy to his apartment like a hillbilly restaurant in front of an old people’s home ¶ her hands on his legs calculating whether he’d be a bank or a prison even before she drank the typical kirs ¶ he tells her that her mouth is a paradise but she thinks the alcohol in the shampoo was a little too obvious even for a Frenchman, glad he doesn’t tell her that she’s beautiful
because she’s not but when she’s drunk she thinks its the same thing like too many eggs in cups ¶ the room was always dark or else she was always underneath something, usually his zebra undershorts, but the next morning she wanted it to be the next night so she used her mouth until it bored her and she could leave and laugh with an old man on a bus at two women from the Quatrieme Dimension who were eating peaches and making sucking noises ¶ the old man tells her that it’s bad enough there are so many strangers in Paris but they should at least stop themselves from eating on buses and making sucking noises ¶ she agrees and laughs and they are very satisfied (lacune)…but she hesitates before starting life again, jumping back, believing; waiting instead for the debts, branches, and withdrawals to start
again in her throat, arms, and eyes responding again to his thick, definite heat that saved her once before at an opera ¶ going to him next time dressed like a prostitute, coming from a bank and telling him things he’s only heard in American films, introduced by Frederic Mitterrand, the ones where the slips don’t completely seal ¶ accepting his legs against her underneath a table, content that he’s Catholic, not exactly Belgian, and finds out what time his hospital opens before women around the world start falling out of cakes ¶
She thinks to start this day, this heat, get out in it, walk it off, buy things, and she looks at the 50 francs someone left her ¶ last night in the toilet outside the room she looked for a long time at the sky, remembering other nights out of his window
on Seventh Street, the broken stars and bricks and losing her way in the still unfamiliar hallways, forgetting which angled-off room he was asleep in ¶ but today there’s only the 50 francs off to the side like a stranger, an intruder, stick, grip,
claw, installation; forgetting who she is; then pulling and attaching, embalmed in her legs, teeth, and hair; then sleeping the rest of the night in the mirror, forgetting his cold hands in her hair, leaving her on a street of fur coats and plastic beach chairs with a headache from the stale cigarettes, paranoid money and the nausea leaning from a distance telling her that white cars are sublime against her skin; and she’s wondering if that’s what she looks like now even though Franz told her: “no, you’re not my idea of an actress” ¶
왘 by Marla Lipschultz
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Carving aBird by Katherine Moss
CHARLIE, THE PSYCHO-YUPPIE by Daisuke Suematsu Somehow I feel violent.
Me: “What are you doing for Thanksgiving, Bob?” Bob: “My father-in-law just recently had a heart-attack and I hope he drops dead while carving the bird, the lousy bastard… Stupid bunch of bimbo sisters running all around… I hate Thanksgiving. I’d rather stay home and eat hot dogs. I really would! I told my wife so, too. I’d rather work—I’d rather drive this lousy cab, and I hate this job. It’s no wonder I drink. It’s a wonder I don’t drink more! That’ll be $3.50, Sweetie.”
A few days later… Me: “How was your Thanksgiving, Bob. Did your father-in-law drop dead while carving the bird?” Bob: “Nope, but, he’s not supposed to smoke, ya’ see? So I just sat there, waiting and watching, waiting and watching, cause I know that good things come to those who wait… and, sure enough, after dinner, he pulls out that pack of Camels, and puts one in his mouth. So I said ‘Hey Pops, thought you’re not supposed to smoke.’ ‘I’m not,’ he says, ‘ That’s why I just smoke one a day, just one a day, after dinner.’ So I quick pull out my lighter, and I chuckle to myself as I light it for him, and I tell him, ‘keep it.’ (He laughs.) That’ll be $3.50, Sweetie.”
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Bang! Bang! …
arcadia a sketch for a video or film project, by Dan Graham
HIS SCIENCE-FICTION NARRATIVE INCOR-
porates documentary essays/speculation about the relation of the modern city to Arcadia. The video or film is both an essay (educational documentary) and a narrative. It is an allegory for the relation of the city to its “other”, a reading beginning with Abbe Laugier and Jean-Jacques Rousseau and moving to the hippie “arcadias” of the ’60’s (a just-past dream which now is mostly forgotten, mythic, and inaccessible.) Somewhere on earth in a non-specific future time—in a setting not unlike the neoclassical Arcadia of painter Nicholas Poussin, but also like the early-American wilderness of James Fenimore Cooper—neoclassical “hippies” live as forever young “Shepherds”. They model themselves on the ideals and culture of the original ’60’s hippies, but they are Apollonian with no Dionysian lifestyle evident. They are utopian folk-artists, recreating the hippies’ dances and devoting their studies to communicative, ecological, and archeological experimentation. They are looking for a Balance of Man and Nature. They see themselves as responsible for the stewardship of the Earth. These neo-hippies’ relation to the original Hippie Culture is analogous to the French neo-classicists’ relation to the ancient Greeks. The reservation where they live contains the remains of a series of “theme-parks”. These philosophical teenagers uncover information about the past by exploring Disneyland-like corporate pavilions, activating wrap-around video screens which project multi-image slide shows. A display of animated representations of architectural space of the past is superimposed over video views of park-like corporate atrium
The neo-Hippies discover that they are under video surveillance. In an archeological dig, they find clues to their real situation.
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or theme-park spaces. A voice-over programmed from the visual display presents a more didactic reading of this historical material. This is the educational essay level. A crucial source of historical memory are various laser rock-video CD’s of rock hits of the past. The songs are all slightly different from our present reality as this film portrays an alternative reality. For instance, Marianne Faithful might be the lead singer of the Rolling Stones and have a career like Jim Morrison of The Doors. The outlines of a great educational theme park such as “Parc L’ Villette” in Paris are discerned—the mirrored reflective sphere, “La Geode”, the “Science and Technology Museum”—but the form of the pleasure area of the park conforms to Rem Koolhaas’ scheme, not to those of Bernard Tschumi. Computer animation can represent the park—they stumble onto the New York City Vietnam War Memorial—from a computer video disc they see a view of it from 1991. The neo-Hippies discover that they are under video surveillance. In an archeological dig, they find clues to their real situation. They are a privileged experiment. After a vast nuclear war, the world’s population was re-located in cities under the surface of the earth. They were kept there even after the war had ended and the earth’s surface had been re-forested; returned to normal by an elite corps of aristocratic leaders who also simulated, through television, a false reality about the conditions on the earth’s surface to keep people from emerging. This was self-serving, but also had a moral justification: if the masses came up, the over-population and poverty would destroy the fragile ecological balance and cause another catastrophic war. The neo-Hippies may be the children of the elite corps, sent to the nature preserve—as if sent to “ivory tower” universities—to learn to
deal with their parents and the earth’s irresolvable dilemma. The parents’ location is obscure; they may have died or left for another planet. Finding the oppressed working class below the ground makes the “Hippies” question the utopian ideas they have imbibed from the theme-park pavilions; they feel stirrings of guilt. Some drift into decadent rituals of play modeled after Watteau and Warhol paintings. Their guilt is analogous to the guilt the ’60’s hippies felt when the Vietnam War was over and they realized that their self-obsessed pleasure was at the expense of those who went to ‘Nam’, and either never returned or were devastated by their experiences. As in the Poussin painting of the Arcadian Shepherds, “Et in Arcadia Ego,” death enters the neo-Hippie Arcadia when the young Arcadians discover a tomb which says, “We too, once lived in Arcadia.” They are living in a cemetery. There are indications that, although they have been programmed to believe they are human, these neo-Hippies actually are an experiment of a slightly earlier era by advanced corporate science from their era; they are free of aging and may have been “frozen” either to escape the plague created by the nuclear war or to
prohibit their emergence from the oppressed city under the earth. The park in which they live is both “Strawberry Fields” and the “Elysian Fields” of Laugier’s “Nature” and Rousseau’s “Natural Man”, set against the reality of the earliest bourgeois city. Such “Elysian Fields” were built as gardens surrounding cemeteries. Early bourgeois city planners, with their new understanding of disease, re-located church inter-urban cemeteries to areas just outside the city walls. The cemetery was landscaped to suggest an Edenic “Elysian Fields.” People visited these parks/cemeteries to commune with Nature and for a cherished memory of their deceased loved ones. The Arcadian cemetery was a utopia. The architecture the neo-Hippies live in are “primitive huts”—their existence re-awakens Rousseau’s dream about returning to Nature and to elementary Greek forms in an uncorrupted state, a critique of the polluted city. The ideals of the neo-Hippies also recall the early utopian communities of America and the belief that America was a new Eden—that Man could start all over again as a tabla Rosa in the experiments by the Shakers, the Mormons, and others.
. . . 11
S t o r y
K a t e
B o b b y ,
A r t
C a r l
D u n n
in G e n e r a l
I had done my best to silence Hecktor. I took marvelous care of it…
side from being a touch neurotic, Wendy isn’t all that bad,” Jeannie offered between two micro-nibbles on a bran muffin. “Except for the crime rate, New York is pretty safe,” Patrick snapped. Jeannie managed both to laugh and chide herself simultaneously. Jeannie then quickly said goodbye. I was doing my little impression of her just then. And, yes, Jeannie does actually talk about me behind my back. But I’ve better things to do than bemoan my roommate’s constant betrayal. Still, I can’t entirely place the blame on her. “Neurotic” plays better in the film houses and, Lord knows, Jeannie really has tried to make me seem more personable. Yet, she inevitably tries explaining me to others, again and again, like I’m a ten-foot high roll of toilet paper or something. I do have problems, okay, but the real problem is that, without money, they remain problems. If I had more money, I could wear tremendous hats and get bounced out of psychiatric programs. Instead, I am simply bright and hard-working. Please don’t throw up yet. I’m not finished. My trouble is noise; noise being my hangup, that is. It was noise that led me to strangle my dog. You see, my story is getting better, more interesting. Jeannie and I share an apartment which is the proper place to begin. She really does all the living in it though. I’m too busy working to live. I work at a bank during the day. On some nights, I work as a barmaid. I also babysit for wealthy couples, but they’re mostly needing full-time help nowadays. Still, I babysit on and off for three couples, usually on weekends. In my spare time, I conveniently fold up into a snack table—great for parties or any ole’ occasion. I also get to listen to Jeannie copulate with her dance strays. Then I’m left to do whatever the last 15 minutes of my weekend, weeknight, or breakfast calls for. But I don’t mind Jeannie. It’s noise in general, not in particular, that gets to me. I don’t know when it started either. I wasn’t raised in an orphanage sharing underwear, etc., so it isn’t
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a lack of privacy thing with me. It was pretty gruesome, what I did to the dog. I mean, I didn’t just kill it. I bludgeoned it. Jeannie absolutely would have called the ASPCA on me if she’d ever suspected what really went down. I’d be sharing a cage with a blind, hungry pigeon if I hadn’t been able to make the whole thing look like an accident. I threw it down the fire escape, made it look like the dog sort of leapt out. Pretty silly, right? If I’d thought a little bit longer, I might have come up with a better story. But I’m not goddamn Raymond Chandler, I’m a bank teller. As you may have guessed, the policemen didn’t buy it. And don’t ask how the police got involved. Someone must have called, which seems unbelievable. I mean, the police have much better things to do than investigate a pet’s death. But, Jeannie seemed satisfied. Not happy, no. She cried, the whole bit. But, she believed my story and thank God for it. I could hardly do this rent alone, and I’ve seen more roommates than a roach. Yes, there was the medical student who cried constantly, a lawyer who proclaimed her love for me, a copy editor who dined on cat food and processed potato something, and my favorite: “the three-week sonata”, a non-smoking, drug-free dream of a roomie who somehow neglected to mention a professional obligation to play the cello six hours a day. She wasn’t too hot on paying rent either, but that was okay since I wasn’t too hot on having her as a roommate once she came clean about the music. Of course, there were a few normal applicants whose only fault lay in hating me. Actually, scratch “fault” and insert “liability”. But, about the dog. It’s name was Hecktor, the son of a bitch. I’d bought it on the grounds that it was a barkless dog. (And Ovaltine is a stimulant.) Truly though, it didn’t bark once in the store. Maybe that’s because the shop owner was gripping its muzzle. It’s amazing, in retrospect, the things we overlook on impulse. I had done my best to silence Hecktor. I took marvelous care of it, first of all—let that be understood. It was well-fed and I walked it daily, blah blah blah. But it went and got worms.
Don’t ask how. I must have sneezed, or adjusted my bra strap. I must have done something horribly neglectful like that. I took it to countless vets. It kept barking and I beat it to death with one of Jeannie’s killer dancing boots. I really don’t know where she buys them. It’s this amazing Marquis de Sade footwear which I can’t begin to describe. And, no I’m not giving out the phone number here. Poor bloody Hecktor when I got done. I have to restate what I said about Jennifer’s reaction to its death. I’m not sure what she knew or believed. Her mouth sort of caved in on itself like a soggy pancake you get in a diner where the waiters comb their hair right over your chipped, blue plate special. What was I saying? Jeannie doesn’t earn much money herself, so maybe that’s why she doesn’t see things clearly. Or she’s stupid (always a possibility). But this is all irrelevant. I have a problem I should really be concentrating on right now. Jeannie has arrived home, and indeed, she is talking about me again to this Patrick guy. Surprise, surprise. I really wish she’d quit it today, however. Though normally I’m never in a rush to chat with her, today I wish she’d left him at the “Dance-Til’-You-Die-O’Mat” or wherever the hell she finds them. I am quite paralyzed; that is, I don’t know what to do nor can I remember much of what I’ve done. Usually people’s babies just stare at me until I read at them or something, but the Watson bastard must have had something wrong with it today because it was screaming like mad. It got so I couldn’t remember its name even. I do remember rocking it, shouting “Baby, shush, baby,” or something like that. There was the pacifier, then the toys, then some Irish whiskey. Well, I must have overdone it with the whiskey because, at some point, it started throwing up. And, with the screaming and the blood came the doorbells which I think I answered but I was very curt. I mean, couldn’t they see the thing was sick? That I had my hands full? They went but this screaming thing wouldn’t. So, I gave the towel a try, but I’m afraid I overdid it with the towel as well. I know. Tell it to the judge. I could give the “I’ve been under a tremendous strain lately” speech, but I doubt it will work a second time. No one will see it my way. And, they won’t have reason to. I left a note with my number, called my lawyer, blah blah blah. Jeannie’s still joking about me, right outside the door. It’s not unusual. She hates me.
Before I left Watson’s apartment (I still can’t remember its name.), I cleaned the mess up. Then, I got ready to leave. That I remember pretty well because I’d been smoking, and being deathly afraid of fire, I ate the ashtray’s contents—a bit strange if you don’t know the situation with me. Jeannie’s always been good about that sort of thing. She’ll say, “You have some ash on your lip,” but she’ll never come straight out with it. Generally, she’s pretty quiet, except for the men, but that’s excusable. And, they don’t all slime past her door. She has her standards; they have to know the words to “Happy Birthday” or something. Hell of a time for jokes. It’s just that all hell is going to break loose and, as always, after these incidents I can hardly hear a thing. The noise just slopes off from the traffic, to Jeannie, to Hecktor, to the faucets, to myself, and suddenly I can’t make out one damn sound. This is even stranger when all is said and done.
. . . 13
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Story & Art by Alex Ross
c a al
a nta stic P
he palace, being a magic castle of the grandest sort, is quite unpredictable in the revelation of its inclinations, and never fully assures its visitors of anything truly experiential. One could spend weeks exploring the endless gardens, fountains, porches, and patios that surround but a small corner of this palace and come away with the peculiar feeling that one had never actually been there at all. This is due to the fact that the Fantastic Palace is one of the moodiest of mansions, constantly confounding those who would classify, compartmentalize, or otherwise clutch on to its contradictory characteristics.
Indeed, paradox is the very essence of this wondrous estate. Riddle-scented wildflowers, game-playing grasses, and trick-colored pools of bubbling puzzle can suddenly grace the grounds of any occasion. Add to this the twisted networks of periodical hallways that connect randomly to rooms of geometric impossibility, and you start to get the picture. It is, quite frankly, an intangible place full of loopholes and lies. Some experts will even go so far as to say that the entire palace is but a symbolic superstructure of analogous significance, dreaming itself into sublime oblivion through the hapless minds of each of us. But this, as it turns out, is simply an opinion, one of many expressed in a dubious effort to gain sudden access to the palatial grounds.
. . . 15
ne way to model the palace is to see it as a maze of rooms and hallways called “points of view” through which we roam and get trapped by. Seen this way, all our activities, insights, and experiences during any given visit become harmless wanderings through a labyrinth of our own making. Yet here we are faced with a dilemma. To have no point of view is to exit the palace and forfeit all meaning potentially obtained there. So, for the sake of experience, we must cloak ourselves with a vantage point and plunge into the awesome delusion that the castle somehow exists independently of us. We are then free to be dismayed by the luxurious carpets that sometimes quiver in the wake of our stride, or to hesitate apprehensively before an empty rotunda through whose stained glass transoms moonlight is liquefied.
OnceInsid Everything kept changing as I walked through t
grew up in the hallway that hadn’t been there be
from linoleum to beautifully waxed oak tiles cov and animal skins. Side tables appeared with exqu
them. The hallway began to have archways, cove nels led to crystal pavillions where stairw A multitude of tea rooms branched off the main p into various closets which themselves expanded cupboards and cabinets. At the back of one of th stack of empty but fragrant cigar boxes, was an led down to the backstage of a magnificent amp through this small portal and went out back t
The sprawling property upon which
dock, past the garage which connected throu
the palace sits has, at the very
small kitchen pantry. By means of a narrow I came to a little puppet theater, housed in a B
least, one hundred known places
lit up by a thousand candles. A crude woode
of entr y; and there are probably an infinite number of others
up to the attic of this brightly glowing I came upon a great octagonal boiler roo
simply waiting to be dis-
doors and sliding panels.
covered. It is generally agree d , h o w e v e r , t h a t this present introduc-
I opened a white ceramic door to a wh a white hallway, and looked in. Out of the tiled floor rose a footstool. Ato
tion ser ves as the easi-
footstool, out of a crack, grew a
est and most comfortable way “in” to this marvelous place. 16
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toadstool which was cracked. Stuck of the cracks was the toe of a ver cracked footstool.
he Palace. New features
, e stool h T . t o le fo the litt king a o d n m s A . m e t a wor he foot smok a or s h c i t h the do t w m u f o h r o f s p I ng On to ck too. cracki a r s c a w g l. , n moki he hal t s that is n e r w e o d ffs w urther f t tiny pu n e y and w quickl
o p ste
e d i uts
efore. The floor switched
A pa th ru ns th Clim b ro i ng v i uisite clocks ticking upon nes d ugh the Th e op ap ga opal; aque blu ple the su rden to es, and soffits. Side tunnli e a t h e re w ith is de sk y shif t g ht in chi shady co w s d m u ays spiraled skyward. y ing . Beyo its h trolls ue to e-like orch rtyard. robo tic a . I let nd the ca e viole s rm p lm m ponk pass and then splintered t-blu tration. keep lan e o a e s it t n d , t o pr int o the then w, th ubu n ew f e d yet further into many reedo lar. I melt d on fro gate-kee e valley fi to p s m. I l boun becom through th ted vellu er’s desk ls-up d a r hese cabinets, behind a m— e pi ar et You w ies that don’t he numbe nhole ape an elast olled ill no ic ba rt r e t pock n open hatchway that nd e t b e i c e w h e n x i s t . I l e a “ o n e h u n d u re o f h i s v e c red.” e the ye int the w ause the l Ib o room w ove o o phitheater. I climbed to en egin to h a f Ital henever I rld folds dent ian h t ally illtow open the into a dim er it, unas ave step to a sort of loading Chic d sailed n e oor o s on t kpea store . he d . This is f , t e h w a v e ithin iden trans awn a t b h ugh the back to a s e o t m l lute , total of m raisin lucent film y. I hold ity o out p y an. y s f ours o . A fi u I i n or r ha nalit w secret passage, am tin p and t y. I eanu he w a constell der to s nd up to acci t kn e orld a we a ocks Bavarian Gazebo, loose tion of fr e the lav the light, ll ge M s u e s t t iss it n r all m of salad eanin bats. I am der silho etching it . The f the boa en ladder led me u g i w n . e t to c t ttes Yet, soul fami when izened. Fi of lo o limb liar of a v d u e c t s g h p l hi days g hutch where ink o ed the m e ver it; liv out t tical f res er, b icros pwrecke o a taur a d sa copi x s soot c is ap ea on a ant c il c che om full of trap tar fo pear nd o offee ese w or. A to s r the n card a i o n rn ha n h want boar ngnai cups brin s with po d ing h eels of cr d ap the lo l t g a o acke snags ostro s t ney ve-m d cer phe? bee, on tw cheer to o ushr ing t a o I m r t e see t h oom hro he na do dark f ic chessm ed. We ex e being ite room off There ugh rive e p h e r e n p n a ng y s .I le rs of a re s o popc ulfed by a lint of ins sing song s motionl h m e e a o e d R s e f a crack in rn clo s ct ha us bleed ystac of sorrow s The ing s sian kids . There is ud of felt k t . s o s t sitt in ki eam. a p the the g in a fecal soil I see froze . I see S It all dime n o f s p a c h a n a g y e g nsio r e bird n ellow et on circu on t nles Micro h e mscr s louder, ceramic faster at. There he tea-co sts floatibes c h i p s s realitie lar , mor zy of ’s a w s , Las crac e colo kers et lea be ers… in view… ge new c k in one … r s a t Men vities her d ing. A ra appea A lo A p i … u o cc n nely m r on Ther the s nk ey h o u s suits rus ry little and e oon pick pernickel e’s a urfac h to ewif ing h ating wood pleth e… and e ea c huc k is no it… o r f r t a i o… ng … se of vered with Persian rugs
. . . 17
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Toxic Copying by Richard von Busack
s per your request, I am officially giving you my account of yesterday’s accident for the insurance company. I may digress occasionally, but I believe that the details of the day will shed some light upon the incident. I hope this will be of some help. The morning was uneventful, so I’ll begin the account at lunch. You’ve probably never been to the lunchroom, so I’ll describe it to you. The Filipino office girls were, as usual, sitting in one corner, chatting and eating their stinking fish. God what a stench; everyone else in the lunchroom was pulled over to one side away from them. They’re beauties. Each one is lovelier than the one before; glossy black hair, delicate features, coffee colored-skin, delightful firm little breasts, lips like Hayley Mills in her adolescence, sitting there eating stuff that would make a seagull retch. Most of our building smells like a jet, pumped full of pressurized air, except for the lunchroom which reeks of fish and the piercing, sickly-sweet smell of microwaved soy sauce. I breathe through my mouth. It’s not easy to do when I’m eating. I asked myself what they were talking about as they ate their cod in oyster sauce, bursting with killer olfactory molecules. They spoke in Tagalog, and the hard sounds of it are like the Filipino folk dance I was taught in grade school, where two bamboo staves at floor level are brought together with a loud clack. The idea is that your ankle isn’t supposed to be in between them when they meet, but it never worked in reality. Since I don’t speak Tagalog, I have to guess that they were talking about me. I expect they were concerned that my
manly parts would be burned off by the job I do. Emily, the feral-looking one with the gold cross nestled in her cleavage, the one whose hair is turned back in a big and expensive puffy explosion that makes her face look like a malevolent, exotic flower, was opining that exposure to the horrible radiant light of the copy machine can cause sterility. While plucking a shred of greenish fish she said, “I let the Yanqui boy do it. I wouldn’t go near that thing on a bet.” I’m not sure if I’m getting the idiom in the last part right. What I wanted to tell them was that it was the judge of a man’s character, how well he does things he doesn’t want to do. I’ve never really wanted to do anything very much, so there was no telling what sort of character I have. I think they’d appreciate the thought, though, and respect me for working the copier, since so few people in the office would go near it. It’s worth being frightened of, although I didn’t expect it to act the way it did that fateful day. As you know, it’s a big, looming Taiwanese copy of a Xerox 1200, made by a company with a lot of x’s in its name. It’s old and scratched by a million, million paper clips and staples, marred by spilled bottles of Liquid Paper and grimed by Christ-knows-howmany thousands of pieces of carbon paper. Yet the shuttle that is its heart still snaps viciously, and it still bellows like a wounded lion. The document feeder devours papers whole and frequently refuses to disgorge them after they’ve been photographed. If your sleeve were to be caught in it, you’d be a goner. It drinks toxic fluids by the quart; its gizzard is packed with vile dark powder that sifts out and besmirches everything it touches. If ever a piece of office equipment was
. . . 19
I studied the system and sat at my desk— the modular man in his modular work space. Everything in my office at Sys Design is ready to be torn down as quickly as a circus tent… bad medicine, this is it. Certainly these women, angels fed on the most disgusting food imaginable, must have respected me for daring to work near it, my flanks pressed against its roaring belly.
BY J O N H E R D E R
Robot Models for 1943
turned my attention away from these splendid women and watched the startled looks on the faces of the other System Designs employees entering the lunchroom. It’s the one-two punch of the new decor and the olfactory bomb of the lumpia. Tattered posters of Maui and Diamond Head have been tacked up by lower echelon members of the Environments department. The superannuated cafeteria employees—and Sys Designs has some of the oldest women I have ever seen toiling here—are wearing plastic leis and jaunty Technicolor Hawaiian shirts. The intercom, which usually plays least loved hits by Glen Campbell and John Denver, issued forth a Don Ho serenade, rich with gutturals and twangy with steel guitar. It’s luau week. I guess I forgot to mention that. If you’d been there, I would have offered you a bite of my Hawaiian burger. Last week, it was Alpine Holiday; they served up Salisbury steak and a very damp potato strudel. The ninetyish cashier was actually wearing lederhosen and a mountaineer’s hat on top of her lavender curls. It was better received than London in Sunnyvale, because no one seemed to like the squishers, I mean, bangers. I horsed around with a portion of some dubious sweet and sour pork and listened to Don Ho gargle. I realized that
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I only had a few minutes left, so I looked out the window as part of the sensitivity exercises I have been taking as an effort to improve my attitude. There was an almost identical office across the street, and for a moment I imagined that I saw myself through a window eating lunch there, but it was a trick of the light. Looking outward kept me from having to look at the photo mural the management had placed to give the illusion that we were not in a lunchroom, but were instead in a grove of New England aspens. Having seen the real item once, centuries before I came to work in this office, I wasn’t fooled. I hate to sound ungrateful, but I never have been fooled by them. Real aspens are in constant motion, shimmering in the breeze. These have never moved, although perhaps the way that they have been printed offregister is supposed to give them this illusion. I left the tropical paradise, returning to my desk where I’d been making files out of photocopies for the past three months, during the hours when I wasn’t at the machine. The desk had been used by a string of temporaries, of which I was the most recent, and the desk was full of the possessions of those who had passed through Sys Design. Dr. Leakey could reconstruct an Australopithecus from a splinter of bone, but what would he have made of a small plastic bottle containing three crumbling aspirin, three pennies coated with tobacco flakes, and half a pack of breath mints? The most telling artifact was a day book from two years past. Inside it, no appointments were noted, but every working day for ten months was crossed out. Usually, the
four flanges of the “X” were made by four different pens. I think it was three months into the assignment when I broke the code. An eight-hour day could be separated into four two-hour segments. Two of the hours would have a fifteen minute break each. Since lunch was on one’s own time, each segment of the day could be reasoned as actually being one hour, fifty-two and a half minutes long. (I hope I’m not losing you here.) With this formula in mind, the quadrants of the day at Sys Design could be considered to be over at 10:22:30, 12:15, 2:37:30 and finally 5 pm, provided, of course, that you took your lunch break promptly at 1:15, which is a good idea, because the cafeteria is less crowded. Here’s the best part of the plan: not only could you tell exactly how long you had to be there, but if you were cautious, you could filch an entire ten to fifteen minutes from the company, since the time clock rounded off the hour at fifty-seven and a half minutes. My predecessor had obviously been just that cautious. I studied the system and sat at my desk—the modular man in his modular work space. Everything in my office at Sys Design is ready to be torn down as quickly as a circus tent; the portable office dividers, the phones, connected into the floor. That is not even mentioning a staff that is twothirds temporaries, as you know. Forty-three more minutes and I could cross off another quarter of the day. That’s when you, Mr. Everson, came up and asked me if I was busy. You handed me a sheaf of papers the size of a phone book to be duplicated, and so, expressionless and thoughtful, I wan-
dered over to the copy room. I was surprised out of my reverie to see that someone else was there first. One of the execs was copying invitations to a garage sale, so I smiled winningly and waited off to one side. Presently, I was in command of the machine again. I think an hour passed as I operated the monstrous thing, little guessing that today it would take its first victim. I collated sheets, careful not to tear my hands with the razorsharp, poisonous edges of the paper. Propelled by waves of green light, my brain fled the office and headed in the general direction of Alpha Centauri. During the four-light-year trip I set the controls to autopilot and thought of sex, of course. What if only myself and one of the women in the office were to colonize the strange and as yet unnamed planet circling our nearest celestial neighbor? Which woman in the office at this very minute could be best counted on to have the necessary pioneer spirit? It would take strength to carve out a life in a land that was just like the California of the Ohlone Indians, only without Grizzly Bears and with plenty of natural sources of ephedrine to keep my asthma in check. Could it be Angelina? I think she liked me. She gave me a cupcake at the Christmas party. She’s married, of course, but it’s to a little homunculus named Hector who I know doesn’t appreciate her and just wants to use her in the kitchen and the bedroom. Later, and as I write this accident report, I was to realize that I shouldn’t have allowed myself this trip away from the workplace. I can only say that I underestimated the lulling power of the machine. The bathtub-temperature, shark-free
. . . 21
waters of Centauri 3 were still coursing off me when I was given a blunt tap on the back of the shoulder by Nestorina Alvarez, who had a rush job to take care of. I let her play through. She is a woman in her fifties with the face of a mustachioed apple doll, and she was faster than I am, even. Though she never mentioned it, and never even said a word to me, I believe she appreciated the finite nature of photocopying. Unlike other clerical tasks, photocopying is finite. Eventually, the pile dwindles and you can move on to something else, as opposed to making files, which could theoretically go on forever. I watched Nestorina’s technique. No matter how much copying you do, you can still learn from an expert. She snapped the original down on the glass as the shuttle passed, clanking in the machine, and fanned out the next page before the shuttle returned. Her rhythm was wonderful to behold. Though she was photographing burst sheets, which had tiny margins, and even tinier margins for error, she never missed a page. She worked with the cover up, so that the green flash of the machine was not smothered by the hard rubber covering. I didn’t know what to make of this. This is officially discouraged, though I’d never heard a first hand account of a case of eye cancer. It certainly made Nestorina fast, at any rate. Her face was motionless as it reflected the searing green light. I settled against the stacks of paper and thought about The Incident at Owl Creek Bridge and how it mimicked the life of a clerk, who spends his day imagining the
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cool air of the evening that he’ll face when he opens the door of his office and heads down the street. I think the machine might have copied this story once for someone’s homework and telepathically put it in my head, because when I pulled out of this thought five minutes had passed, and I began to notice that there was something strange about Nestorina’s expression.
had heard that she was a Giants fan, so I decided to ask her what she had thought of the game last night, and whether she had enjoyed their triumph over the loathsome San Diego Padres. She didn’t answer, but in a moment she began to thump her knee against the side of the machine as a counterpoint to the snap, clap, roarrr of the machine and the slapping of her hands on the glass. Her face seemed to glow with the unearthly, hellish light of the machine. I backed away from her, frightened and fascinated. Both of her knees were pounding the gray metal of the photocopier’s side. She began to run in place, jerkily, like a dancer doing her warm up exercises. Her torso was still, but her arms still flailed against the glass, never missing a page. The beads around her neck rattled like maracas. I’m sorry to say that I asked Nestorina if she was stretching. My God, what a stupid question. She was tackling the contraption with her entire body! I leaped towards the shutoff switch and two things happened. First, she backhanded me with surprising strength, and one of her bracelets
The bathtub-temperature, shark-free waters of Centauri 3 were still coursing off me when I was given a blunt tap in the back of the shoulder by Nestorina Alvarez, who had a rush job to take care of. opened up a cut on my face which required six stitches. Secondly, she voided about a pint of urine. “UH,” she said, to the best of my recollection, “Uh, uh, uh, uh, UHUHUHUHUHUHUHUHUHUH!” Her left arm shot up and hurled the computer sheets against the ceiling. She crashed to the floor in a blizzard of computer flimsies and file boxes and began to roll on the floor. My memory here is a little hazy. No one had laid a hand on me since I had left high school, and Nestorina had hit me very hard. My prime memories of this scene are that her face was magenta, her eyes were rolled up very far, and her tongue was out. About this time, I wiped the blood off my face and decided that it might be a good idea to ask for help, since my co-worker was lying in a pool of her own urine and trying to swallow her tongue and having what some people might well describe as a grand mal seizure, and therefore a little medical attention might be welcome. I began to yell, as I remember, “Help! Help! Jesus, Joseph, and Mary! Nestorina’s having an epileptic fit!” This alerted the rest of the office who came in and shouted suggestions on what to do; suggestions which included: “Jump on her stomach!”, “Get some Tiger Balm!,” “Take her clothes off,” and “Thump her head on the floor;” the last being especially irrelevant, since Nestorina was already doing just that with astonishing vigor. Fortunately, someone decided to call you, Mr. Everson, and you had the good sense to call an ambulance, and also to remove the wadded piece of photocopy paper which someone had wedged in her mouth to try to
keep her from choking on her own tongue. I know I must have seemed somewhat hysterical, Mr. Everson, which is why I’m making a point of trying to record my impressions of the day as accurately as possible. Repeating the phrases “Now I know why you’re supposed to keep the cover closed,” and “It was just like that scene in The Andromeda Strain,” while jumping up and down and shrieking the laughter of true lunacy could not have helped to defuse this terrible incident. And before the ambulance took me away with Nestorina, I didn’t have a chance to thank you for your offer of a few days off. There are a few other things I wanted to mention, however. There is something desperately wrong with the copier that requires not a repairman, but an exorcist, to fix. I would suggest that someone try to photocopy a crucifix in it for a dramatic demonstration of the machine’s satanic properties. I think levitation is the very least you can expect. As you will have noticed, there are plenty of crucifixes in the office, since only devout, fresh-off-the-boat from Metro Manila immigrants can afford to live off of what your company pays them. However, I’m afraid that there are many other soul-destroying properties at the office that I do not have the time to enumerate. It may be that evil is like radiation, that one can only absorb so much before it becomes lethal. Whether workman’s comp can cover it is something my lawyer and I intend to pursue. In the meantime, I suggest that you stay away from the machine, and you can trust me to do the same.
. . . 23
A Son and His Dog “I will leave to you what my father left me— fond memories.”
made this declaration
as we shared lunch and too many drinks at one of his favorite downtown haunts. It was a lighthearted disclosure of insolvency which needn’t have been made. We were meeting, after all, to discuss how I might accept power of attorney and help him sell his home before the bank made good on its foreclosure threats. Dad had long maintained that his fierce regimen of daily exercise and vitamins would counter any physical damage done by vast quantities of imbibed Scotch. But as he approached his 74th year—the mean life expectancy for white American males—he realized that he was getting no special dispensation. Long before alcohol abuse had ruined his health, it had damaged his ability to reason or plan for the future. Toward that end, in what must have seemed a stroke of clarity, he made a final payment on his modest-sized Bayliner. The power boat, he believed, would serve as his last domicile. Pamela, his only dependent, was an eight-year-old Labrador Retriever he was convinced would adjust to the new life in splendid fashion. And for awhile, all seemed fine. Having sold his home and paid off his major creditors, he bought a berth at Oyster Point near San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, and put his boat
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by Patrick Burnson art by Mia Wolff in working order once again. But as the dementia worsened, he neglected to visit his doctor or take the prescribed medicines. Finally, he put his dog in a kennel and caught a flight to Texas to be with his sister. The visit was ostensibly for only a short time, but a call from my aunt suggested otherwise. He’d had another critical relapse, and was to be confined indefinitely in a Fort Worth hospital. Meanwhile, I was to get the dog and have it “destroyed” or find it another home. Pamela had been languishing for ten days in a private keep located in the City’s rural outskirts. Although she was familiar with both me and my wife, she greeted us with guarded skepticism when we arrived. Taking her from this strange place to one still more foreign caused her to brood and display occasional aggression several days on end. While we waited for Dad to either return or recover sufficiently to tell us directly what to do with this animal, we kept the dog. We are a childless couple, and our one-bedroom apartment seemed scarcely big enough for us when we first accepted this new guest. Yet, as weeks passed, the place began to afford greater space. Pamela, by virtue of taking us out more often, actually broadened our vistas.
Several months later, Dad decided to hop a plane back to the Bay Area for a final crack at independent living. No sooner had he returned to his boat, however, did he discover that his condition had worsened beyond sustainable limits. The harbor master sent for health authorities to take him to a local hospital where he lapsed quietly into a coma and died. It was then that I was confronted with the Furies. With barely enough money left from the sale of his estate to pay for cremation, I was at a loss as to who to invite to the wake. Not one of his five remaining ex-wives (including my own mother) would care to publicly remember him, as was the case of my sole sibling and the score of step-children left behind. I decided then to take only Pamela to the site of the funeral and be done with it. Fort Point lies beneath the southend of the Golden Gate Bridge, and is a favorite spot for lovers and a few intrepid surfers. Film buffs will recall it as the place where Cary Grant rescued Kim Novak from her suicide attempt in Vertigo. My father, who taught me to swim in the sea and to respect it always, stated that it was there where he wished to be buried. On a rigidly cold October dawn, I drove Dad’s remains and the dog he left behind to this special place. I spilled the ashes unceremoniously into the churning white water, and fled with Pamela on a day-long trek through the headlands. As we walked, I came to realize how the dog had Dad’s gait, his steady gaze, his taciturn demeanor. I wonder still, whether I chose to keep this animal to soften the blow of his passing, or as a reminder of my own mortality. Dad was a small man, stolid, yet graceful. My dimensions are much the same, and tethered this way to his dog, I pondered how the reach of the leash must seem similar to her. The pitch and cadence of my voice is not as my father’s was, yet I can command her with a very deep whistle she has grown to respond to. Toward the end, when Dad was lucid enough to realize his desperate condition, he would blindly strike out at Pam in a sudden rage. The dog remains slightly wary as a consequence, and keeps vigilant watch over my every gesture. We move along well together, though, and her twilight years should match my mid-life snugly. Her abiding companionship is something I will certainly cherish, although there is something more I wish to capture from her. For lack of a more precise definition, I suppose it is the animal’s trust. Without that, how will I ever be able to guide her toward the exit as well?
by Nilka Dunne
“I don’t know why she said half the things she did, or did half the things she said she’d do.” These were the words still imprinted in my brain as I opened my eyes to the gray streaming sunlight. My dreams had left me half-baked. In the first few minutes of half-consciousness I began to reassimilate my surroundings from the night before. It’s Sunday? No, no, it’s Saturday, and looking quickly at the bed spread, I am in my bed. This much brought comfort to me, knowing these few things to secure my faith of the present reality, while bringing an uneasiness, from that point onward, of who I was or was not. That much was not always certain. Suddenly, here we were chatting away under the hot sun after a tunnel-of-fudge ride from NYC to Long Island. I was remembering dancing in our underwear under the drainpipes, on your lawn in the rain, and how great that would feel about now as I was laid out on a towel under the naked sun, an albino mirage, withering. My stomach had the bad impression of wax chewing gum teeth, gnawing on me as we sat here under this umbrella, laughing at the beached whale on the sand in swimming trunks so tight you could actually find his dick in the many folds of flesh. “You’re mean,” you said. “Well, you found it hilarious so you are too.” Then that kid came over and rubbed sand in my back, my sunburned back. The blisters broke and began to bleed. Funny for all the pain there was, it didn’t hurt so much as......so much as a lot of things that aren’t physical. And then, Kelly was so thrilled. You gave her that dildo for her birthday and I gave her the copper top Duracell batteries, cause they keep going, and going and going......yeah, she loved that. And right after that, the night we all got drunk, she somehow convinced her mother it was a shoe horn. Reelin’ drunk with happiness, breathing in the cold knife air to my lungs, and laughing until our stomachs hurt. Next inside the warm smokey air, the jukebox screamed at us as we grabbed a stool. How did I get here? “How did I get here?” the words tumbled from my mouth. “Whadda ya mean, how did we get here?!” you answered. “You know what I mean don’t you? I hate that feeling when I get to where I was going and I don’t remember the going. Like mornings getting to work and being there about an hour and suddenly not being able to remember if I locked the apartment door, if I grabbed my wallet. Kind of like being on automatic pilot now, more than not. Feels like scrambling, like some tightrope walker, to get to the other side, only without the immanent thrill of death or paralysis.”
. . . 25
All the Tea in Java story and photo by Richard Rubin here’s nothing very exciting about a Javanese wedding. Hundreds of people sweat for an hour in the shade of a canvas canopy, packed knee to knee in tight rows of folding chairs. Meanwhile, out of sight of 98 percent of the guests, the traditionally-dressed bride and groom recite their vows inside the bride’s parents’ house, and honored dignitaries and assorted aged uncles whisper speeches recite prayers from the Koran. I asked for teh, te’, ti, andI had been invited by my friend tehhhhh, even the Rina to a traditional Javanese wedArabic shai, all to ding in her hometown of Padangarang, about two hours west looks of bewilderment. of my home in Indonesia’s busy and polluted capital of Jakarta. While the wedding was a struggle, I was excited to be out in the countryside, and the next morning climbed aboard an ojek (a motorcycle taxi) and headed up the dormant volcano overlooking Padangarang. Halfway up the peak, the sky, as it often does in Indonesia, opened up in torrents. After another fifty yards, we came up to a bamboo and palm thatch shelter along the road. The ojek driver and I jumped off the bike and into the shelter, where it was agreed I would pay him for the trip so far and walk the rest of the way. The rain stopped after an hour and, wet and cold, I walked across the road to a small warung, where I thought I could get a cup of tea. The food stand was located at the edge of a broken courtyard of a weatherbeaten Islamic school. I sat down on a wooden bench outside and found myself surrounded by many of the teenage students of the school, more than a few of their younger brothers and sisters, and several village elders. Most of the boys wore sarongs; in Jakarta, the clothing of choice was counterfeit Levis. “Dari mana, pak?” (“Where are you from, mister?”), one of the students swallowed deeply and asked. “Suda lama di Indonesia?” (“How long have you been in Indonesia?”).
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From the United States, and one year, I replied in Indonesian much to their astonishment. This immediately brought about a new round of questions, now from the group. “Bisa bicara bahasa Indonesia?” (“Could I speak Indonesian?”) Yes. “Suda punya istri?” (“Was I married?”) No. “Kenapa tidak?” (“Why not?”) Can’t commit. I wanted that cup of tea. The problem was that while I was able to share my life story with my sarong-clad legions, I was unable to get across to the affable fellow across the counter that I wanted a cup of tea. I asked for teh, te’, ti, tehhhhh, even the Arabic shai, all to looks of bewilderment. Help was finally offered by one youth who volunteered that he could speak a little English. But all he could offer was his apologies. “I’m sorry mister,” he said, rolling the r’s for several seconds as Indonesians do. “I don’t speak English well.” I was ready to give up when suddenly a teenager arrived carrying a small tray. On it was a glass of hot water. “What’s this?” I asked the guy behind the counter. “Teh,” he answered uncertainly as the glass of hot water was placed down alongside me on the bench. When I looked up to thank the bearer of the hot water, I noticed several match box-sized boxes tucked in the upper right-hand corner of a glass display case on the counter. On their labels were drawings of bright green leaves. It was tea. “What’s this?” I asked the warung owner, pointing at the boxes. “Teh,” he replied. “Teh?” I said no differently than before. “Teh,” he answered, this time confidently. I bought a box and dropped a wad of the dried leaves into my glass of hot water. Slightly warmed up, I offered my thanks, wrote down my name and address a few times, and bid everyone farewell. Within a couple of minutes a truck was churning up the road, its bed filled with sacks of rice and teenagers. I climbed aboard, settled in among the sacks, offered a stale sweet roll to one of the boys, and
again explained that I was from “Amerika” and had lived in Indonesia one year. A few miles up the mountain, the road was no longer paved but was made of stones, and in several spots only bare dirt. It was in one of these places that the truck became stuck in mud caused by the earlier rain. The only way to keep going was to push, much to the delight of the teenagers. After a few counts of “satu, dua, tiga,” the truck was freed from the mud. A few more stops for pushing later, and we finally made it to the last village on the mountain (both names since lost to me). Mothers called their small children to front doors to see the bule who had showed up, from only Allah knows where, in their village. Calls of “Hello mister” and “Dari mana?” echoed from each home and yard. I felt like an explorer, imagining myself to be the first Westerner to ever visit the village. But as I exited the village and through the surrounding rice paddies to the peak above, I realized that that was not quite correct. Three white men in polo shirts following an Indonesian man were walking towards me from the peak. Australians, they were among the hundreds of expatriates working at the chemi-
cal, steel, and petroleum plants of Java’s nearby far west coast. They had the day off from one of those plants and on the advice of the Indonesian coworker leading them, had decided to climb the peak. Their advice to me, however, was that I shouldn’t even bother to go up, as there was nothing to see. “Not a Most of the boys wore fucking thing,” one advised. sarongs; in Jakarta, Looking up at the summit above, I wondered if the the clothing of choice Australians were right. I suddenly felt lazy. There were plenty of good was counterfeit Levis. reasons not to climb: the trail was likely to be muddy and slippery from the rain and it was already early afternoon and the sun sets at six on the equator. Instead, I climbed onto a boulder, long spewed out of the volcano and resting in a nearby paddy. The stone offered a good if hazy view of Padangarang and the surrounding lowlands below. A couple of hours later, my back sore from the jagged rock and my stomach growling, I eased myself off the boulder, tottered along a dike to the road and began my trek back down the mountain to town.
. . . 27
by Michael Kayi
ick of California and needing a fresh start, I moved from San Francisco to New York City in 1986. I immediately embraced the super-urbanity of Manhattan and moved into a studio apartment on a crack street in the Lower East Side. I was content in my new beginnings with a copy of Crime and Punishment by my bed and countless mice and cockroaches as companions. I still longed for one part of California culture: Mexican food. In 1986 there were some restaurants in New York which served approximations of Mexican food: chili con carne, chili powder-spiced tomato sauce, enchiladas filled with ground beef and smothered with cheddar cheese, and chile rellenos which were more like chile-cheese omlettes. With names like ¡Caramba! and ¡Bandito! these restaurants seemed to be run by true gringos with only
vague memories of Club Med vacations to Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan. Before I left San Francisco, there were days when I sustained myself on burritos. A day’s worth of food rolled into a tortilla cost as litttle as $2. San Francisco and Los Angeles have had a large population of Chicanos who’ve had years of experience cooking meat and beans, preparing salsa and guacamole, and rolling it into the tastiest package. For meat lovers there was a wide range of chicken, steak, and pork stewed or grilled various ways. One of my favorites was carnitas: chunks of pork cooked slowly all day in a broth until it was browned and tender. The vegetarian options were equally satisfying. In New York, I’ve always kept my eyes peeled for good Mexican restaurants, learning that Spanish-Mexican restaurants were must-avoids as much as those yuppie margarita factories.
Vegetarian Taco Recipe (serves 4)
Vegetarian Burrito Recipe (serves 4)
Authentic Mexican tacos are just corn tortillas, meat, onion, cilantro, and hot sauce. This vegetarian recipe is more of a California variation, but tasty, nutritious, and simple to make:
Technically speaking, burritos are not Mexican. There is no such thing in Mexico among the indigenous population (except for a few restaurants which cater to tourists). Burritos originated in California, and are quite popular amongst both gringos and Chicanos. But, who cares how authentic they are as long as they taste good.
INGREDIENTS: 16 corn tortillas 1 can of pinto or black beans 1/4 lb. jack cheese 1 ripe tomato 1 white onion cilantro bay leaf, garlic, cumin, oregano (for beans) 1 avocado or guacamole your favorite hot sauce or salsa
INGREDIENTS: everything for tacos, but substitute flour tortillas for corn (4 large or 8 small; the bigger, the better) 2 cups chopped lettuce 1 cup White rice tumeric, paprika, butter (for rice) 1) Prepare beans as for tacos.
1) Drain and rinse 1 can of beans. Put on a low heat stove with water to cover, 1/2 onion (not chopped), 2 whole cloves garlic, a bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano. Let it cook, stirring occasionally.
2) Cook white rice as directed on package, but put a dash of tumeric and paprika and a pat of butter in pan before adding rice.
2) Chop tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and grate cheese.
3) Chop tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and grate cheese.
3) Chop avocado or make guacamole.
4) Chop avocado or make guacamole.
4) After beans seem done, warm tortillas. If you have a gas stove, place tortillas directly on the flame and turn frequently until soft. If you have an electric stove, cook for approximately 20 seconds on each side (until soft) on a very hot pan.
5) Once rice is cooked, warm tortillas on a large, lightly-oiled pan until soft. (A microwave is a good alternative.)
5) To assemble: stack 2 tortillas on a plate, spoon out small amounts of each ingredient, top with sauce, and fold over tortillas.
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6) Put tortilla on a plate and spoon the ingredients into the center. Fold left and right sides inward and roll away from you (This is the hardest part.).
However, the best solution has been to cook some of my favorite dishes myself. I’ve learned a little about cooking Mexican food from a few recipes and from careful observation of experts in restaurants and homes in Mexico and California. I’ve searched all over New York City for things like corn tortillas, Haas avocados, tomatillos, and jalapeño chiles. I’ve tackled recipes for chile verde, enchiladas, and chile rellenos; but the simplest items to cook are tacos and burritos, so that’s what I’ve usually made. I’ve made a lot of friends with these simple recipes. They’re so tasty that I knew I could build an empire if I opened a taqueria in the cosmopolitan fast food capital, the East Village. Well, I stayed out of the restaurant business, but someone named Harry had the same idea. Today, decent Mexican restaurants are everywhere in New York. Two trends have contributed to this: a wave of Mexican-born immigrants opening more authentic Mexican restaurants, and entrepeneurs who’ve dotted the map with taquerias.
No New York taqueria compares with the best in San Francisco or Los Angeles, but there are plenty to stay my cravings: Harry’s (91 E. 7th St.)—Fresh ingredients, but bland taste. Benny’s (93 Ave. A, 94 Greenwich Ave.)—Same menu as Harry’s, but somehow more flavorful. Good Margaritas too. Lupe’s East LA Kitchen (110 Ave. of the Americas)—Good verde sauce, beans, and rice; but overpriced, and I suspect they use MSG. Paquitos (143 1st Ave.)—Stuffed with love and flavor (except on an off day). The fajitas are worth trying too. Paquitos is my current favorite and the only place that rolls burritos taught enough to eat with your hands. California Taqueria (Bergen St., 7th Ave. in Brooklyn)—For some reason they use two tortillas which blemish otherwise excellent burritos. Avoid their chile-cheddar chese omlettes disguised as chile rellenos. Mi Tenampa (150 E. 14th St.)—Formerly the Disco Donut. Good burritos and tacos, plus a full menu of classic dishes. Uncle Moe’s (14 W. 19th St.)—Looks Yuppie, Smells…, Tastes…, Priced… The Kitchen (218 8th Avenue)—Very inventive, very expensive.
Burritoville (various locations)—Comparable to Harry’s with gimmicks like vegetable chorizo. They’re a reliable (but overpriced) source for fresh-made flour tortillas. Burrito Bar (305 Church St.)—Classic 1986 New York Mexican food. Worst burritos, even worse prices. But, if you like to get drunk, check-out their weekend brunch. There are many other Manhattan taquerias similar to these plus a couple which beat Taco Bell at its own game: San Loco (129 2nd Ave.)—It likely has the hottest hot sauce in New York. Fresh Tortillas (various locations)—These Asian-owned outlets live up to their name by making their own flour tortillas. They offer a wide selection of items for under $2. Also, here are plenty of family-run Mexican restaurants which are owned by MexicanAmericans. Many are quite good, and offer more traditional dishes like chile rellenos, enchiladas, menudo, and chicken mole. But that’s another story.
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THE GARDEN SISTERS d ra w i n g b y R o b e r t M c C o r m a c k
Licorice Jubilee Rape your husbands and eat dead birds, people! Eat Edgars ear under tiny little nest eggs. I could always have yellow withered tulips this evening; lilies, junipers and irises only suggest nausea. On Tuesday night, Uncle Norris snatched Rebecca’s quivering egg, enabling Rebecca’s kitten to lick Becky’s claw. Oliver taunted Nester’s ugly nob as rough teens entered Ursula’s empire. Sally told Jenny, “Suck, sweetheart, eat Nancy’s rip.” Lonely women overdo hairy gash munching wordlessly. Right Tom, everyone’s urinating, everyone’s on your ass, inching their nice hard hams and ruining virginity. Oily tits never need sucking right quick. Eager ermines really kicked the little black cookie. “I caught Alan humping your wife,” tattled Timmy. Even little Joe’s ass is only slightly nibbled. On Theresa’s nubbed lip a hard shell lingered. Jelly rolls eaten indecently torment your little friend. Rub your hairy asses everyone! Even Uncle Lou teased Nelly’s egg. Run Tom, everyone’s urging Evan on. Your asshole is through: nasty hateful hole. Oh Tina, never love again. Others thought Nancy’s underground nest shook rather quickly. Erotically rosy kittens tickled love’s big cock. Riding your hard and excellent dick brought perfumed essences. Rubber toys enticed Uncle’s eerie old yearnings and initiated the now haunted house amid ravens, vultures! So then Jacky sniffed Sal’s ether, nuzzling Rhonda’s lemon wedge. Odors drifted higher, greasing Mary’s womb. Sal toked joints secretly. Orange teeth nibbled luscious Angie’s hairy slit. Licorice Jubilee! Riding every inch, Tracy yodeled, living, fucking…stop tying jock straps so evenly. Never remember low white oracles, dead hernias. Glow my worm. Imagine canaries annoying hard young white thugs, titillating Ed’s little joy apple. I can advise hard young white thugs to enjoy love’s juicy adventures. I obviously should know. Isn’t oral sex nice? 30
peep spring 1 994
about the contributors Kate Bobby is a journalist in Elmwood Park, New Jersey. Patrick Burnson is a writer who lives in San Francisco with his wife and Pamela. Richard von Busack held various temp jobs before becoming a staff writer for Metro, a weekly in San Jose, California. Laurie Butler directs a Soho gallery between film editing jobs. Carl Dunn is an illustrator from Douglaston, New York whose work often appears in Sassy and Black Tail magazines. Nilka Dunne is a native New Yorker who just moved to Jersey City, New Jersey to shorten her commute to work in Manhattan. She publishes Stupid Stuff, a Journal of Boredom and Procrastination. Chris Egan is a photographer in New York City who formerly played drums and other percussive devices for Missing Foundation. Paul Evans is a painter in New York City. The Garden Sisters live in Brooklyn and are writing their autobiography of which “Licorice Jubilee” is an excerpt. Julie Goodwin is an artist in Chicago, Illinois. Dan Graham is an artist of many media. He’s known as the godfather of Sonic Youth. Jon Herder plays guitar for the Toads and clutters his Brooklyn loft with countless found antiques. Mario Hernandez is a master handyman and cartoonist in San Francisco. Look for his “Brain Capers” at comic book stores everywhere. Michael Kay is a graphic designer in Brooklyn who dreams of one day working full-time on peep. Marla Lipschultz lives in Paris, France. She works for an air courier company to save money on dutyfree items. Robert McCormack is an artist who lives in Brooklyn.
Sally Ross is an artist in New York City. She builds architectural models for a living. Richard Rubin is a writer, photographer, and nature lover living in Far Rockaway, New York until he decides if he wants to move back to California, North Carolina, or Southeast Asia.
Robert Melee is an artist/illustrator in New York City. His illustrations have appeared in Interview and the New Yorker.
Jordan Steinberg lives in Hollywood and works as an art director for B-Movie King Roger Corman.
Katherine Moss is a student and writer who lives in Albany, New York.
Daisuke Suematsu works as a computer programmer for Barclays Bank in New York City, and practices music and philosophy.
Rita is a New York City artist from Hungary. Her work is featured in Blam!, a CD-ROM magazine. Alex Ross is an artist living in New York City.
Mia Wolff is a painter/illustrator/masseuse/ mother/former trapeze catcher who lives in New Paltz, New York.
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