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was printed on March 31st 2005 by Puberty Press in Tampa, Florida. All writing Copyright 2005 A.P. Smith All photography Copyright 2005 A.P. Smith All Art Copyright 2005 Mike Force With the assistance of our colleagues, this book was designed & illustrated by Mike Force


his book was initially published in April, 2005. Back then, we didnt have Kindles and iPads. We didnt have an African-American President. We didnt have WikiLeaks. We didnt have the Tea Party. In 2005, global warming was a rumor, Facebook was The Facebook and airlines didnt charge for luggage. We still listened to music on compact discs and we still watched television shows on televisions. We didnt have Twitter or Tumblr; we didnt have iPhones or Androids. Saddam and Osama were both alive and well. Michael Jackson too. Despite the changes weve been through since this book was published, I believe its themes and topics are just as relevant today as they were seven years ago. Topics like self-discovery, gentrification, revolution, conspiracy, sex, drugs some things last forever. Some things never change. Here we are, still yearning for inspiration, still seeking truth in the muddled gridlock of the information super highway, still paying the best of our bills and still fucking for love whenever we catch just the

slightest scent of it. Here we are still, waging war, watching torture porn, driving our cars up main street, and confessing our sins if only to the bartender. Have we progressed? Are we improving? As a world of nearly 6.8 billion, we have never seen the earth turn faster. We are a planet of time travelers, men and women from the past, weary from lack of sleep, facing our new world with strained optimism. When I wrote this book, I felt very pessimistic. The future seemed dark; darkest, we hoped, before the light. I wrote Horses because I believed we were living in a time unequaled throughout the annuals of history. I believed we were witnesses to the birth of a new world, a new world that only the passage of time could deem good or evil. And then our new world begot another new world. And that world begot another world and that world another world, faster and faster, like an infinity mirror reflecting the innumerable dirty faces of our ghetto teenage mothers. Babies having babies having babies Parenthood is not to be taken lightly. And yet we are giving birth at supersonic speeds: launching social networking websites, manufacturing smart phones and laptops, erecting Freedom Towers, occupying Wall Street, syndicating reality shows, downloading anything, uploading everything, rocketing through a tunnel with nothing but our debit cards and cell phones Do you see that? Do you see that light at the end of the tunnel? Is it an oncoming train? Is it a way out? Is it the dawning of a light to vanquish all darkness? No, its the glow of an iPad 3. And we are heading straight for it. And its heading straight for us, faster and faster. Were on a collision course. No need for a seatbelt. At this speed, it wont save you.

From Brooklyn, A.P. Smith October 26, 2011

He mounted on a chariot and tamed with the bit the horses of Diomedes that greedily chomped their bloody food at gory mangers with unbridled jaws, devouring with hideous joy the flesh of men. Euripides, 380


Ive been stranded in the combat zone I walked through Bedford Stuy alone Even rode my motorcycle in the rain And you told me not to drive But I made it home alive So you said that only proves that Im insane You may be right I may be crazy But it just may be a lunatic youre looking for Turn out the light Dont try to save me You may be wrong for all I know But you may be right - Billy Joel



called her Tittie Dog, but everyone else who lived on Classon Avenue called her Queenie. A large mangy mutt, sandy-brown and weak in the knees from old age, Queenie birthed enough pups that her teats hung so low she dragged her nipples along the freckled, uneven sidewalks she patrolled every day. But she was almost never alone. Blackie, an equally decrepit yet certainly younger midnight-colored mutt, often waddled alongside her. And two years ago, for only a month or so, a small puppy known as Baby trotted softly behind them, careful never to overstep his companions. I heard a woman on Greene adopted Baby and raised him to be a respectful young animal despite the rumor: supposedly Blackie was not only Titties husband but also her son, and consequently both father and brother of Baby. Three years ago when I first moved onto Classon, both Blackie and

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Tittie Dog barked at me as I rode past on my bicycle. At first I thought they were just afraid of bicycles, but when winter came with that north Atlantic wind and I put away my bike for the season, Tittie Dog and Blackie still barked at me when I walked past. One late winter evening the elderly man who lived at 317 Classon explained it to me. Queenie and Blackie just aint used to seeing white folk round here, he said. It aint personal. Theyll get used to ya. And they did. Last year they guarded my stoop day and night huddled together, flea-ridden limbs overlapping, and barely flinching when I opened the front door to leave. Id say, Hey guys, gotta move. And they would. Reluctantly. Blackie ambled down the steps as if merely standing was absolute torture and Tittie Dog moved even slower, with more misgivings. These dogs were possessed by spirits of both ageless wisdom and teenage angst. Ive had lengthy conversations with these dogs. Ive seen them chase white girls down Classon, around the corner and out of sight, the rhythm of their barks and her heels reverberating off the rows of brownstones. Ive seen these dogs lie down in traffic. Ive seen these dogs grow old. And Ive seen these dogs die. I used to keep a box of Milk Bones in my living room by the door so I had something to feed them every time I left the house. But when Blackies teeth started to bother him I switched to Alpo and my supermarket bagger, an older man also plagued by bad teeth, asked me, Why you spending money on those dogs when you wont even buy sum candy for yr kid? Cookie, I dont have a kid, I told him, as I always did. Now dont be running away from yr responsibilities! Cookie replied, as he always did.

These days, walking home from the supermarket or the train or school I miss Tittie and Blackie. Finding those dogs on my stoop was like coming home to a pair of affable roommates. Some afternoons we three would just sit on the stoop and watch the day move along: children playing jump rope, crackheads hustling, Baptist church-goers, Pratt Institute students, cars, busses, gypsy cabs, all manner of Bed-Stuy inhabitants and traffic move down Classon Avenue. Classon starts at Flushing, tucked in the elbow of the BrooklynQueens Expressway, runs along the east side of Pratt Institute and parallel


to Franklin (the dividing line between Bedford-Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill), then crosses Myrtle, cuts through Atlantic, leans west, and ends at Washington Avenue. I live in roughly the middle of Classon Avenue, at the corner of Lexington, in a building marked 419 A, between 419 and 421. And my lease is up at the end of this month. Ive been on the road for the last eleven weeks and returning home is not an easy feat after such an absence. Leases, bills, moving, Orange Alert I can feel the city tensing up for the Republican Convention but all I can focus on are these seemingly more pressing issues like finding an apartment and deciding whether or not Im going to go with my friend Tim to Virginia for a Phish concert. I want to hit the road again. I know I dont have the money to spend, but if I sell my belongings, my furniture, my books, my CDs, then maybe Ill have money for the first months rent of the room Im looking at, which isnt big enough to hold all my furniture and books and CDs anyway. Im keeping my bed though. I may only hang onto New York for another few months but I still need a bed. But maybe not. I may pack up and leave this town and forget about writing and get a job making sandwiches or car engines or lattes. Maybe Ill cut my hair. Ive been thinking about cutting my hair for the last few weeks now but I havent done it yet. I want to be certain. Ive been growing dreadlocks for almost four years nowfirst locked up when I moved to Classonand, well, I think the pros and cons are pretty simple. At college, specifically an art school, dreadlocks can be beneficial because it excuses most all late arrivals and acts of forgetfulness. Dreadlocks and the pot-head hippie stigmatism that accompanies them in our cultural hemisphere allows one to somewhat secretly ascend to levels of accomplishment beyond peoples expectations. In some peoples eyes, dreadlocks are a statement, a religion, a way of life, a category, a stigmatism, suspicious, generous, indifferent, unyielding, all that stuff. My mom says my dreadlocks protect me in my neighborhood. I agree. And my mom had convinced herself Id cut my hair after graduation and since then has convinced herself that Ill cut it when I move out of the ghetto. And she may be right this time. My dad thinks Im having an identity crisis. My friends say Ive already made the decision to cut and that its only

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a matter of time and that I should cut my hair after this last Phish tour but before the Republican Convention. And you should get a new drivers license after you cut them, a friend tells me. And finally renew your passport like youve been talking about. But if I cut my hair, isnt that conforming, isnt that letting them win? Sure it gets you respect in Bed-Stuy, says my friend Jake over Chinese food. But try going to the convention like that; if the Democrats didnt like you, what do you think the Republicans are gonna do? He sips his soda while rubbing a hand over his red, thinning hair. And if youre worried about letting them win, well Jake opens his mouth wide, pushes in a dumpling, and chews, saying, Theyve AL-ready won.



oday is a big day. Its four-twenty, Hitlers birthday, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting, and Jesus is coming back. Big day. Time moves differently on days like today. Its not necessarily slower or faster; it just passes differently. Maybe its the weather. Maybe its the weed. I think spring is finally here, although I dont want to jinx us, but shit man, its almost June. Schools almost out and the summer, well the summer. I remember hearing on the news a few weeks ago, right before the coalition troops seized Baghdad, that everyone was worried about the war stretching on into the summer when the desert heats up like a well, like a desert, and with the troops in their chemical suits the normal 100 degree heat will feel like 150 degrees and no one can fight in that kind of heat. I cant wait for the summer. Ive got big plans. My dad and I are trying to make it down to Australia in June. I


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want to scout out some places to move to when I graduate. Ive been to Europe and its great, but Ive heard so many wonderful anecdotes about Australia and the beaches and the women and the kiwi birds and the women. And because my dad is a retired Major from the army, he and any of his dependants (me) can fly on any space-available military cargo flight to anywhere in the world, including Australia. For free. The military just recommends a six week window for any flight because they, for any reason, might not allow us on the flight, or the next flight, or any flight. Its risky. My dad and I might be on a flight with a layover in some South Pacific Island like Pago Pago and be told were stuck there for the next month and a half. And I suppose that wouldnt be so bad. But my dad has to work. And hes only got a two week vacation. I get paid to edit The Prattler, my college magazine. Everyone on staff gets paid. Its pretty sweet. I have a problem being at a specific place at a specific time. And Ive been fired from a few jobs because of it. But with this job, I work when I want. I can work on Easter Sunday and smoke a joint while I do it. And get paid. My dad puts people to sleep for surgery. Hes an anesthetist. He cant smoke pot while he works. He has a schedule, working usually five days a week. My mom too for that matter. She manages the recovery ward at the same hospital, Harborview Hospital in Seattle. My parents work with a team to heal the sick and save lives. I write. My parents work so I can write. Jesus, He still isnt here. I often wonder if this is what I should be doing with my life. I guess Platos question of what is the good life? has been pondered for many generations by thousands or millions of men and women, but sometimes I feel paralyzed by the thought. Does a writer live the good life? If the trick to all this is to place the good of humanity over the good of the individual, then should I be writing? In a time of war, what could be more arbitrary than art? Some would argue that war only heightens the importance of art and the responsibilities of artists. I suppose. Thats certainly one way to look at it. Some mornings, when Im waiting for my coffee in the bodega Ill glance at the cover of The New York Post, usually some glorifying war photograph: a soldier crouching in rubble with his gun at the ready, a medic treating an Iraqi civilian, that leaning statue of Saddam. All of it just makes it that much more difficult to sit through a documentary about stuntmen in my film class or to critique the latest segment of a students novel in my writing studio. How am I contributing to the greater good?



Should I even be concerned about that? Someone said to me the other day, This is probably the best time in the last thirty years to be in school. And theyre probably right, but is art inspired by war or is art trumped by war? I try to keep myself informed. I spend about an hour a day online reading various news sources like the BBC, the CBC, The New York Times, The Syrian Times, etc Last time I checked, the current American casualty count was about thirty less than the number of casualties during the Gulf War. I was eight years old in August, 1990 when President Bush Sr.

authorized the call up of reserves. At the time, my mother was in the Navy reserves. I remember my mother sitting me down in the kitchen and explaining to me that she may have to go to Kuwait. She showed me maps of the Middle East and said if she got called, she would have to leave within forty-eight hours. I understood all of this but, taking my mothers advice, I didnt worry, didnt fret about it because it may not happen. I just want you to know whats happening, my mother said. Her eyes, the same as mine, turn amber in low light, and that night in the


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kitchen they glistened. Neither one of us cried until the next day when I found her typing in the study. Whatre you doing? I asked. Writing my will. My mom never got the call and now both my parents are done with their military service. My dad is actually sending me his old army uniforms. Ill do something with them. But thats just the thing: something. What can I do? I can protest, sure. I can march, I can yell and scream, I can make anti-war prints in my lithography class, I can wheat-paste anti-war imagery all over Manhattan, I can write my congressman, I can surround the White House, I can preach about The Weathermen, I can write about politics, I can write about myself, but what does any of it accomplish? The last time I watched G.W. Bush speak he said something about the protesters outside the first meeting to discuss a new Iraqi government. He said the protesters were a sure sign of freedom! Asshole. This year, for the first time since my Catholic school days, I actually spent time thinking about what would happen if Jesus showed up. Not that I believe in any of that shit. Anyone who went to Catholic school will tell ya it only makes you an atheist. But with all the religious strife in the world right now, wouldnt it be nice if the messiah returned? I dont think Jesus could fix any of our problemshed probably only make things worsebut wouldnt people be surprised if they turned on the television and instead of Brokaw jabbering about Baghdad there was a live feed of Jesus greeting the faithful in Times Square? Im telling you theyd all shit their pants saying, Damn, he did come back! Who knows what the other religious devotees would say. Maybe just a somber, embarrassed, damn, which is basically all I can spit out these days. Damn. I mean, whats next, North Korea? Iran? Syria? Now that weve said fuck you to the U.N., Saddam, and everyone else who looks at us with a raised eyebrow, we can do just about anything we want. Weve got the muscle, just proved it in Iraq, so fuck, whats next? Who else do we want? We put em in power, we take em out. And what the fuck happened to Osama Bin Laden? Maybe thats why Jesus is late. He, Osama, and Obi-Wan Kenobi are celebrating four-twenty. It might as well be like that. Orwell, Chomsky, Bradbury, they were right. Last night some friends and I watched Fahrenheit 451, a film adapted from a book in which government workers raid homes for books and then burn them for all to see. Interesting. Of course, itll never happen. The



government would never eliminate such a subversive tool. Propaganda has many vehicles. And there are no vehicles, no automobiles in that movie, none that I can remember. Maybe Bradburys future doesnt have room for cars. Ours certainly does, were making damn sure of that. Not to say that the war in Iraq is all about oil, but come on. If McDonalds, the worlds largest purchaser of potatoes, invaded Idaho and said it had nothing to do with potatoes, Id be a little suspicious. I guess all Im saying is that Im at a loss for words. Writing just seems so arbitrary right now. Whos even listening? Hell, we have the technology and the communication networks to organize the largest anti-war movement to date but what did it accomplish? Everyone just sighed and said yeah for freedom. Everythings beautiful in theory but in practice its a different story all together. Maybe Ill write about that. And let Bradbury burn it. Fuck, Ill shove it down his throat because, if not alreadynoticing the ominous fleet of helicopters hovering over Manhattanpretty soon were going to be the least free nation in the world. Its called The Total Awareness Act. Wheres Orwell when you need him? Probably with Jesus and Osama and Obi-Wan getting blunted. Damn. On days like today, youre either down for the cause or youre not. Youre either dedicated or apathetic, with us or against us. Youre either right or left, a hawk or a dove, a student or a solider, an imperialist or a subordinate, home or abroad. Now, as the clock strikes midnight, I accept the fact that Jesus isnt gonna show. Maybe next year. Maybe next election. Maybe Ill smoke another joint. Maybe Ill start a revolution. Maybe Ill write another article. Maybe Ill write a book.


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lost my virginity when I was fourteen years old. Ninth grade. I remember watching her walk into the classroom on that first day of school. Brown sleeveless button-up, matching mini-skirt, high heels, platinum hair, she knew people were noticing her. It was ninth grade. Flora MacDonald Academy, Red Springs, North Carolina. Her name was Megan Kennedy. Megan and I first started flirting in computer class. Wed talk about the 60s and The Doors and Charles Manson. She was obsessed with Charles Manson and carried Helter Skelter wherever she went. She read from it as if it were The Bible with dog-eared pages of her favorite passages. And even though she only received form letters in response, she wrote to him in prison almost every week. Hes just so sexy! Megan told me. We were learning how to type, one sentence at a time, and our computers were next to each other. Its the swastika, isnt it? I said. Thats what does it for you.



Yup, thats what it is, she said. If you had a swastika carved in your forehead, youd be sexy too.

On November 12th, 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio, a sixteen-year-old named Kathleen Maddox gave birth to a bastard baby boy whom she named Charles. Kathleen was briefly married to William Manson who gave the boy his surname. Promiscuous and having no desire for motherhood, Kathleen often disappeared for weeks at a time leaving Charles in the hands of her fanatically religious grandmother. When Kathleen and her brother were both sentenced to the penitentiary for armed robbery, Charles was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in McMechen, West Virginia. He was nine years old. Charles spent his entire adolescence in reform schools: Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana; Father Flanagans Boys Town; The Indiana School for Boys; and The National Training School for Boys in Washington D.C., the latter of the teen-aged Chalie Manson which he had a good chance for parole and release but only weeks before his hearing a trio of guards caught Charles sodomizing another boy at razorpoint. He was denied parole and transferred to a more secure institution in Chillicothe, Ohio. If not the hometown air, something in Ohio changed Charles. He was more cooperative and eager to learn, all of which led to his parole in May of 1954. And in early 1955 he met and married a waitress who bore him a son, Charles Manson, Jr. A father, Charles was not yet twenty years old.

I read Helter Skelter for a little while, didnt finish it. The other kids on the school bus didnt talk to me, the out of shape weirdo new kid reading Manson shit in the back row. Each morning the hour-long bus ride


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took me through cotton fields, around churches, and past the meat and poultry plant, where all the trucks turn into carrying cages and cages or crates and crates stacked full with chickens, feathers flying everywhere. Or hogs. One day Megan told me she made eye contact with a hog in a cage getting trucked to the slaughterhouse. Megan said she felt like she spiritually bonded with the hog. I can still remember my mother on the telephone with a friend somewhere in the house where she thought I couldnt hear her: And now the bitch has gotten him to stop eating pork I know! Fuck that puppy love shit; all those phone calls! Do you know that sonofabitch racked up 400 dollars talking on the phone with that bitch? Yeah! No, she lives in Lauringburg No, we put an end to all that. After my parents got that first phone bill, they ordered a long-distance code for the phone. I guessed the code, 1982, the year I was born, but I never again called Megan. Nevertheless, all that came after we first fucked, after that moonless Halloween night, 1996, in the luscious gardens of Flora MacDonald Academy.

In 1896 a movement in North Carolina for the higher education of women led to the founding of Flora MacDonald College. Dr. Charles Vardell took charge as president of the proposed school. A young and inexperienced man, Dr. Charles Vardell came to Red Springs and, standing at the edge of the swamp, he said, Here is a place for a garden, the like of which cannot be found, and here is a place for a girls school, the need for which is unequaled. Throughout the decades, the school and its curriculum changed from The Red Springs Seminary with ninety students and a faculty of six to The Southern Presbyterian College and Conservatory of Music to Flora MacDonald College to Vardell Hall, an all girls preparatory school and junior college, to Robeson Country Day School and then finally, in 1983, to Flora MacDonald Academy. FMA sits tucked away outside of Fayetteville, past Hope Mills, through Lumberton, in Red Springs, North Carolina. Ranging from kindergarten to twelfth grade, approximately 300 students attend FMA. The building itself, with a huge staircase entrance between thick white columns into a dark oak rotunda with left and right spiral staircases leading to the high



school classrooms, is now over one hundred years old. And it smells like rotten wood or sometimes fresh paint. During the spring you can hear trains roll by on the other side of Vardells gardens, an acre of lush, blossoming campus divided by trails and paths. These paths lead to a small, once-was freshwater lake, now a dead grass colored, stinky-ass pond. Of course, thats not how I remember it. I remember the pond in autumn.

Lets go for a walk, Megan said as we watched people pay gaming tickets for kisses from the kissing booth. Where? I asked. Well go to the gardens. Screw all this, she said, flicking her wrist at the other students, the other students parents, the gaming booths, the contests, the prizes, the music, the haunted house, the entire FMA Fall Festival. I followed her. Outside, trotting down the gray stone staircase with the gardens in the distance, I heard a voice say, Yall leavin ah-eddy? It was the principal, Pat Stewey Stewart. He looked like a turkey, neck flabby and drooping, flopping as he spoke. Yall know ya cant cun backn. Whyd we want ta go back in? Megan snapped, and kept walking, her pleated skirt rippling at the thighs. I hurried to catch up. Wanna go to the gazebo? Megan asked. Sure. The air was cool and dry, still, with no breeze. We held hands as we walked along the path through the dark foliage and shrubbery. Megan smelled like suntan lotion and the scent overpowered the natural scent of the gardens. I let go of her hand and wiped my sweaty palm on my blue jean pant leg. We didnt speak, barely looked at each other as we walked and when we reached the gazebo she took my hand again and looked back at the school, half-sized and glowing from inside. This isnt good enough, she said. Suddenly, I knew what was happening. Lets go to the lake, I said. On the dock, it was even quieter, darker. Everything was still, including the rancid, shallow pond peppered with reeds and lilies. I took off my denim jacket, my dads jacket, and laid it on the dock for Megan and me to sit on. A moment passed. Neither one of us looked at each


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other. A burp sounded from the pond. I looked at Megan; she turned her head towards me and I kissed her. While some people value the memory of their first kiss, I cherish the memory of that kiss on the dock, the last kiss, my final kiss as a virgin. In no time at all I hiked up her skirt, stripped her of her turquoise panties, dropped my pants and boxers to my ankles, and mounted her. She asked me to be gentle, and I slowed my pace, gradually plunging deeper, my knees chafing and splintering against the dock, she moaned, it felt so and then I came. Rolling off, I pulled up my pants and Megan glided her panties up her calves, thighs, and back around her waist. We sat on my dads denim jacket on the dock in silence. I remember thinking that I was suppose to feel different. And I didnt. That hurt, Megan said. Im sorry. Im just sore is all, andshit! What? I bled all oer! Its all over, all oer my skirt n yr jacket! Fuck! Laughter. Someone was laughing. Standing to look I saw a group of seniors, boys and girls, heading towards us on the dock. Who is it? I dont know. Well, yur jus gonna havta let me tie yur jacket round my waist, so no one sees the stain. I watched Megan tie the sleeves in a knot at her bellybutton. She looked different. Sexier. Mature. I could see in her the change I expected to happen to me. Her eyes glistened in the darkness. She looked up and caught me staring at her. Hey lover, she said. Hey, I replied.

Throughout the rest of the autumn and into winter Megan and I fucked every chance we got: lunchtime in the locker room, after school in the auditorium, the wheelchair-access elevator during assemblies, the seniors lounge, every afternoon in any semi-private place we could find in the gardens. One day, during a group tutoring session at my math teachers house, we fucked in our teachers bedroom closet. When youre



fourteen you cant just take the car and park at the turn-around. When youre fourteen you have your parents drop you off at the mall and you fuck your girlfriend in a department store fitting room. Megan and I fucked everywhere and it wasnt long until all the gossips knew about it. Even my biology teacher, a Native American named Rolland Robeson teased me saying, Is my desk safe? Is it clean? Do I need to get the skank, I mean stank, off it? Hohohaha, is it clean? Huh? Have you marked this territory yet? Yeah, yeah, yeah, Mr. Robeson. And he would laugh and laugh. Mr. Robeson was a nice guy, a religious fanatic, occasionally getting serious about the Lord this and the Lord that, but overall a nice guy. I could talk to him about anything and he often told me about his frustrations as a teacher in the South, saying that no one wanted to learn. He averaged the final biology exam out of 200%, leaving 100% as an A, basically so that you only had to answer a quarter of the questions correctly to pass the class. Some students, including Megan, still had to repeat the class the following year. I passed biology with a grade of 148%.




he night I met Kai was the night we went to war with Iraq. I spent that Monday night, Saint Patricks Day 2003, in front of the television watching Bushs speech, the imminent announcement of an unprovoked attack on Iraq. I had planned to meet my friends at the bar later that night, after the announcement, but at midnight I was still curled up under a blanket on the floor in front of the television like so many Saturday mornings of my childhood. I was depressed, disheartened. How could I get up and go to the bar on the eve of war? My grandfather, an Irish emigrant, rolled over in his grave. Being Irish and not drinking a beer on Saint Patricks Day goes against every natural law of the universe. I laced my shoes, hopped on my bike, and pedaled through Brooklyn


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to the bar. Inside, I greeted the bouncer with a hug, ordered a beer from Tommy, and excused myself through the thick, belligerent crowd to the back of the bar where I knew my friends would be sitting, drinking, drunk. And they were. Maybe half of my friends watched Bushs announcement, so we had little to discuss: Florida, sex, school, vacation, the previous week was spring break. Around 1:30 the bar thinned out. All the drunks went home. The lucky ones got lucky. My friends, landing somewhere between the two, filed out one at a time mumbling excuses about class the next morning. I stayed, ordered another beer. Four beers later, I met a girl who had watched Bushs announcement. She had not been rattled and so, as I have the tendency to do when Ive been drinking, I went off: This country is a joke and something needs to be done about it are you familiar with the Patriot Act the Domestic Security Enhancement Act the Homeland Security Act the fact that the only thing Iraq and al Qaeda have in common is the letter Q our civil liberties are gone its McCarthyism all over again and people dont even know it and Ill tell you something else this war is gonna cost over 100 billion dollars kiss your student loans goodbye I mean the whole fucking world opposes this war excepting of course England and a few countries Colon Powell bribed last week quite frankly Im embarrassed to be an American and something has to be done we have to do something are you familiar with the Weather Underground? I need another beer, the girl said. Ill be right back. I was left alone. I sipped my beer and sighed. WE SHOULD ALL BUY GUNS AND START A FUCKING REVOLUTION! Young barflies glanced in my direction with questioning expressions. Are you serious? Yes! I yelped at the voice: a hospitable-looking girl in a denim jacket palming a dark lager. Havent you seen Bowling for Columbine? Yes I have. And you think one more person with a gun is a good thing? I think its our fuckin duty as citizens of a sovereign nation to have a revolution when the government fails us.



Violence? Revolution by any means necessary. I dont think thats the right way to do it. Ya know, if people like you were around in the 1700s, wed all be fuckin British right now! She laughed and snorted. I laughed too. Sipping our beers, we held eye contact. She had beautiful, tobacco-brown eyes. Do you live around here? I asked. No, I live in Kansas City, she said. Oh, I said, crinkling my brow. Whatre you doing here? Spring break! We pressed our mugs together and gulped down our beers. Where do you go to school? I asked. The Kansas City Art Institute. Are you from Kansas City originally? No, Im from Arkansas, she said. Wannna see my tattoo?


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In the morning, I turned my alarm off and rolled over to spoon Kai. Youre not going to class? she mumbled, without opening her eyes. Not today, no. You should go to class. I know, I said and squeezed her tight, pulling our pelvises together, releasing a contented moan. She arched her head backwards and we kissed, soft and languid. Can we sleep a little bit longer? she asked. I was planning on it. Good, she said, exhaling. We kissed again and fell back asleep with the morning sun on our faces. In the second morning, not more than an hour later, we lay in bed and continued our barroom dialogue. How many people have you slept with? she asked me. How many is too many? Dont worry about that, she said. Okay. So? About a dozen. Okay. You? Twenty-two.


A philosopher, scientist, and revolutionary, Albert Einstein believed in devoting his energy to the contemplation and exploration of objective and timeless things, a doctrine that, in his mind, bestows independence from the attitude of ones contemporaries. Having been born in Germany and educated in both his homeland as well as Switzerland, Einstein renounced his German citizenship when he was twenty-seven. Said Einstein, My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized... In my opinion, an autocratic system of coercion soon degenerates;



force attracts men of low morality. The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling. In 1903 Einstein married Mileva Maric. They had two sons, Hans Albert, who grew up to become a successful hydraulic engineer, and Eduard who fell victim to schizophrenia. Before their marriage, Albert and Mileva gave birth to a daughter whom they apparently put up for adoption. Her fate is unknown. In 1914, Albert and Mileva separated and the First World War began. In 1919, Albert divorced Mileva and married his cousin Elsa. In the years that followed, Einstein committed himself to the defense of democracy against fascism by signing petitions and speaking in public. In 1922 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. In 1927 he signed a petition against Italian fascism and began a dialogue on quantum theory interpretation with Niels Bohr at the fifth Solvay Congress. In 1933, Einstein moved to the United States fleeing Nazism. This excerpted letter he wrote to President Roosevelt on August 2nd, 1939 almost six years to the day before the atomic bombing of Japan:

it may be possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radiumlike elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future. This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivablethough much less certainthat extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed

In 1952, Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel. He declined. At the age of 76, Einstein died on April 18th, 1955. As her senior thesis in high school, Kai wrote a research paper on Albert Einstein. Born on a commune in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Kai was raised by her


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parents, a Buddhist medtech and an agnostic architect, as well as the other people on the farm. Now, she studies sculpture in Kansas City, Missouri. When Kai was twenty years old, she called her mother crying, begging her to quit her job. When she was twenty-one, she lived in Holland for six months through a semester abroad program. In Holland, there are more bicycles than people. After walking Kai and my bike home from the bar on Saint Patricks Day, we sat in my living room and shared a bowl of black beans and rice. That night, just before we first kissed, revolution was the farthest thing from my mind.




I cant wait to be old, I told Kai on Thursday afternoon in bed recovering from an orgasm. Shhhhh I was silent. This is my favorite part, Kai whispered. That window right after sex before speech. This is when I feel most alive, most at peace. Most human. Just after the event, but before the moment of reflection. That window...


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I remained silent and looked out the window as a bird, no a plane moved across the pale blue sky.

On Friday night Kai and I ate Thai food before going to a South African restaurant for drinks. We sat at the bar and lit our cigarettes with the flame of a cream-colored candle and discussed our work, our art. Earlier in the day she had shown me slides of her sculptures, paintings, photos of site-specific installations, all of which concerned desire. I have really high standards ya know, Kai informed me. I laughed. Its true, she said. I wouldnt just spend a week with someone I didnt really like. I think youre great, Andy. I like you a lot. I smiled and caressed her thigh under the bar. I dont have any standards, I said. We both laughed. Asshole, you better have high standards. Our laughter grew into smiles and penetrating eye contact that harvested a kiss, full and soft, playfully genuine.

Saturday morning Kai and I woke at ten as my alarm clock promised. Hung over and comfortable in each others arms, we agreed to sleep a little bit longer. Waking again at noon we had slow, lazy sex and dressed with Al Green on the stereo. At the bodega we bought two coffees, two egg and cheese sandwiches and The New York Times. Sharing the paper, we rode in silence to 23rd street, where I guessed my friends (all college students) who had started at the beginning of the march (noon at Times Square) would be when we finally arrived. The weather was perfect, sunny and cool, T-shirt and pants weather. Walking south down Broadway, the march made the opposition to the war feel like the majority. People danced, ambled, and marched down the street in troves and pairs, arm in arm, hand in hand, in step, not unlike Kai and me. Signs read: bombing Iraq is so twelve years ago, kill the killers killers, and daddy made me do it. For a moment amidst the peaceful march, I regretted forgetting my camera or at least not making a sign. But we were there. We marched together to Washington Square Park where we met some friends, some selling homemade T-shirts, some plotting more direct action, some smiling, grinning in the sunshine.



When the air cooled, most of my friends went home. The New York Times reported 100,000 people participated in the march. The organizers of the march said 225,000. The police had no comment. After participating in the dancing and music in the center of Washington Square, Kai and I rejoined the throng stagnant in front of the news vans at the east end of the park. We stood, we whistled, we chanted at the news vans. The cops gathered and dispersed, looking confident and indifferent like the ocean tide.

We are the people of this generation, bred in at least moderate comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably at the world we inherit.

Thomas Hayden (June 15th, 1962) The Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society

By June of 1965, the national office of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had moved from New York to Chicago. Eighty chapters existed throughout the country. The Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum, spawning organizations like the Black Panthers, and the undeclared war in Vietnam was nearing its anniversary. The SDS, an organization founded before the war, had become a tool for those students opposed to the war. As U.S. involvement in Vietnam grew over the next few years, the SDS became discouraged. Peaceably convincing the government to end the war seemed unlikely. In August 1968 a demonstration in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention turned violent as Chicago police assaulted and arrested demonstrators. The Chicago Eight, including Thomas Hayden, were indicted for conspiracy to riot. Less than two years later, the SDS disbanded, creating in its wake The Weathermen/The Weather Underground Organization (WUO), a militant sect of the earlier SDS. During the 1970s, The Weatherman claimed responsibility for over twenty anti-personal bombings throughout the country including targets like the 103rd precinct in New York, several police vehicles in Chicago as retaliation for the Chicago Police killing of Black Panther Party (BPP) leaders Mark Clark and Fred


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The first measure is not to lose patience. I think we must not lose our patience, calm, or good humor. We must take this struggle to victory, forcing our reason to prevail and knowing how to do this. We are acting with reason and right on our side. They are acting against reason, right, and history. We are certain we will emerge victorious in this struggle. We are absolutely certain we will win the economic battle. We should act in a manner that would be of no benefit to them. They always expect certain reactions from the revolutionary government. They are always mistaken. These mistakes are characteristic of U.S. foreign policy

Fidel Castro (July 9th, 1960)



Hampton. The Weatherman also claimed responsibility for the bombing of Federal buildings from Washington D.C. to San Francisco and even New York. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, citizens can now access the FBIs volunteered 682 pages of information on The Weather Underground. Access is also allowed to 1,487 pages of information on Albert Einstein including the following:


We are informed and believe and charge that Professor Albert Einstein is inadmissible to the United States on the following grounds: (a) Albert Einstein believes in, advises, advocates, or teaches a doctrine which, in a logical sense, as held by the courts, in other cases, would allow anarchy to stalk in unmolested and result in government only in name. (b) Albert Einstein advises, advocates, or teaches, and is a member of and affiliated with groups that are in militant and admittedly illegal opposition to the most fundamental principle of organized government. (c) ...

When Kai and I rejoined the demonstrators at the east end of Washington Square, neither one of us had an agenda aside from assembling to demonstrate our opposition to the war. Kai and I were not of the church that was willing to be arrested that Saturday afternoon. Our strategy and slogan was make out, not war. The police grew concerned when the horde of protesters moved down W. 4th Street towards Broadway. They were waiting for us when we reached the corner. A thick wall of riot gear-clad policemen stood like statues. The crowd somehow came to a silent consensus and moved as one down Mercer, then right on Washington Place, outflanking the human law enforcement barricade. Almost at the intersection of Broadway


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and Washington Place, a dull hum developed into a roar peppered with shouts. A single-file line of three dozen policemen on blue and white NYPD scooters rocketed through the crowd crashing into citizens who didnt jump out of the way fast enough. Within two minutes the scooter platoon cut us off, surrounded us, dismounted and stood with nightsticks in hands. It was the perfect moment for us to strike. Taking Kai by the hand, I walked her right up to the front of the crowd, positioned her in front of the line of policemen and kissed her. We made out passionately for what seemed like a solid moment, long enough for me to forget where we were. Screams and shouts. I open my eyes. The skirmish was not five feet away: a dozen policemen and half a dozen citizens. The cops had them on the ground almost instantly. Kai coughed and my eyes burned. The cops had two men pinned to the ground and zip-tied their wrists together. A protestor, lanky and unshaven, kicked a scooter over on top of a cop, pinning him to the ground. The protester was immediately cracked across the head with a nightstick. He spun around once before falling to the asphalt obviously unconscious. More cops were running in from the park hitting and grabbing anyone within their reach. The crowd shouted Shame! Kai and I pressed ourselves against a parked van and remained as still as possible. She coughed violently and stuck her nose in her T-shirt. A handful of cops ran by shoving a demonstrator into the van we hid against. He screamed, FUCK YOU! Then the cavalry arrived and I decided we should get out of there. Walking, calmly walking, arms around each other, we left the fighting behind us. The first line of cops tried to prevent us from leaving: one officer grabbed my arm, pulling me away from Kai. I ripped myself loose and he moved on to someone else. The second and third ranking officers who established a perimeter around the crowd allowed us escape after a simple, stern excuse me. The whole scene couldnt have lasted longer than seven minutes. As we walked away Kai and I were forced to clear the sidewalk by squad after squad of riot cops running towards the intersection of Broadway and Washington Place. One cop dropped a pair of zip-tie handcuffs that Kai snatched up immediately. The next cop running past said, Ill take that, and plucked the cuffs from her hand. When we were far enough away and there were no police in sight, Kai and I embraced against the wall of Blockbuster Video. I buried my



head in her neck and she did the same. We needed to pause. I needed to absorb the event and come to terms with my disgust, my utter lack of comprehension. Kai trembled and nuzzled her face deeper into my collar. I remembered getting maced and hit in Seattle at the 1999 WTO protest. Where are we? Im sorry, excuse me but yall got so much love I was wondering if I could bum a cigarette. I looked up and saw a young man in an oversized red tank top. His smile may have been sincere. I realized I was holding a cigarette between my fingers, had been since the skirmish, and handed it to him without saying a word. He thanked us both profuselyperhaps noticing our distresssmiled widely, reminded us how beautiful love is, promoted his reggae band, and continued on his way. Later that evening, Kai and I had passionate sex, loud and violent like a waterfall. Dressed again, we drank the pint of rum I had in my freezer before going to the bar in which we met. Some friends, none of whom were at the march, were at the bar. Neither Kai nor I mentioned the protest. We drank. The next morning I awoke before she did. Knowing that her flight left late that night/early the next morning, I somberly watched her sleep. We had spent our last night together. Hey, she said when she woke up, smiling while stretching. Come here. We lay in bed and fed each other the last of the gummy bears from a package on my bedside table. She ate the clear ones, the ones I never eat. Kai and I spent our last day together at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Times Square. I brought my Polaroid camera with me and we had fun posing with the figures, some so lifelike I walked out of the museum more skeptical than when I entered.


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he Department of Defense has identified 918 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the death of the following Americans yesterday:
CALDERON, Juan Jr., 26, Sgt., Marines; Weslaco, Tex.; First Marine Division. GRAY, Tommy L., 34, Sgt., Army; Roswell, N.M.; First Cavalry Division. ONWORDI, Justin B., 28, Specialist, Army; Chandler, Ariz.; First Cavalry Division. RATZLAFF, Gregory A., 36, Capt., Marines; Olympia, Wash.; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166, Marine Aircraft Group 16, Third Marine Aircraft Wing. SHONDEE, Harry N. Jr., 19, Pfc., Army; Ganado, Ariz.; First Cavalry Division.


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Everyday I muster the courage to read The New York Times. Some mornings reading the paper is like washing clothes. At first youre kind of lazy and broke but then you convince yourself its the right thing to do and it doesnt really cost that much. And when its over you feel empowered, a little more civilized, and better prepared to face the day. The laundromat on the corner of Classon and Gates where I used to wash my clothes closed down about a year ago. The building was condemned. I remember spending Sunday afternoons there with young kids playing Pac-Man while their mothers read The Caribbean Life newspaper or watched one of half a dozen day-time courtroom television shows. Pasted on the wall next to the change machine was a piece of paper listing all the great African-American inventors, including Nathaniel Alexander (folding chair), Leonard C. Bailey (folding bed), and James A. Bauer (coin changer mechanism). Now, the doors and windows of the laundromat are boarded up and a piece of paper is tacked to the building. It reads, Condemned! No Trespassing! My building, when I first moved in, had a small metal sign on the door that read No Trespassing, but the landlord, a well-dressed, shiftyeyed man from Algeria, removed the sign when he replaced the front door. When entering the building I often hear my downstairs neighbor from just behind his door with his eye to the peephole saying, I see ya there, I see ya. Mike Sotto, my downstairs neighbor, started feeding Tittie and Blackie around the same time I did. Always in his underwear, Mike has the smallest nipples Ive ever seen: dead crimson, almost black, about the size of a dime. His complexion suggests his parents were either Dominican and African or Haitian and Mexican or even Spanish and Sicilian. When I asked what his ethnic background was his eyes bugged out like a lizards and he said, Ive lived in Brooklyn my whole life. Mike has a specific way of phrasing things, sometimes so distinct, so peculiar you can only guess what hes talking about. And I still dont know about them girls upstairs, hed say, referring to the two gay men who live on the third floor of our building. Im always finding them things in the street. Them things, ya know, and then with a motion towards my crotch, them things for the dick. Im finding all sorts of colors on the sidewalk here. Thats my sidewalk. And I mean long ones, and you know that aint from the little Spanish guy. Some of em are loaded too! And I gotta be the one to pick em up!



Before Mike and I started feeding Tittie and Blackie they loitered outside the Hi-Technology Newsstand on the corner of Classon and Clifton. Underneath the battered, once fire-engine red awning the mutts would sleep and listen to the conversations of four or five skinny old men, all of whom are ten years younger than they look. One stinky August morning that first summer on Classon, I entered the Hi-Technology Newsstand and asked for The New York Times. The proprietor looked at me as if I was speaking a language he didnt understand and said simply, Nope. I didnt read the paper that day. And I chose not to read the paper today. Sure I skimmed the headlines, but I just didnt feel like reading about death on my dads birthday. So instead I made a phone call. Hello? Happy Birthday. My dad was in the car heading south down I-5 from Seattle to the Muckleshoot Casino which gives you a 1,000 point birthday gift for your slot machine card on which you earn points towards a prize for each credit. I think 10,000 points gets you a hotel room for the night. Are you gonna gamble or just take the points and run? I asked. I think Ill gamble a little maybe see how my luck is. I laughed and so did he and he asked me about all the decisions I was in the process of making. We talked about how I was pretty much set on moving into the 210 Washington house, probably not taking the train trip through the swing states, selling my stuff, staying in Brooklyn, and working on the book, maybe doing the last Phish tour, maybe just Vermont. We talked until he pulled into the casino parking lot and then we hung up.

Its now midnight here and Im still at The Prattler office in one of the Pratt dormitories and my clothes are tumbling around in the dryer down in the basement. I wash my clothes in the dorms now. I opened a bottle of red not long ago. My dad is probably in bed already. During the week, he goes to sleep at nine oclock on the dot to get up for the next workday. Last summer my dad took two weeks off and we drove from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California and back in his 1995 creamy-white


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Ford Mustang with black leather interior, bucket seats, and automatic transmission. Its an unspoken law in my mothers eyes and a respectful consideration in mine that I dont smoke cigarettes in front of her but my father smokes, has been addicted for decades, and we smoked all up and down the California coast despite the law of the land.



CAM B R IA, CALI FOR N IA 07/19/03 5:47 pm

lenn has no teeth. And a long mustache, long enough to hide the fact that hes toothless. Thus far I liked Glenn. He kept buying us rounds of drinks. Back from the bar carrying beers for me and my dad and a white Russian for himself, he sat down, crossed his legs at the thigh, and leaned on his elbow. Are you a cop? Glenn asked me. Do I look like a cop? I asked. Glenn mumbled something about always having to ask and never knowing and well, ya know. He shrugged his thin, bony shoulders and chuckled. Are you a cop? I asked. Hell no, he replied, laughing. Oh, no. Im still on probation, how could I be a cop? Whatd you do?


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Well, ya know, nothing really. I laughed and sipped my beer. I was just asking because if you, ya know, need anything while youre in town, Glenn said, waved his hand around the air, rolled his eyes from side to side, and pointed at himself, nodding proudly. No thanks, Glenn. Im set. What, you got a piss test coming up? No, I jus Because I know how to beat that. Oh yeah? Oh yeah, Glenn mumbled, his mustache vibrating. His eyes widened like he was lying or like he had something to prove. How? I asked. What you do is drink a whole pot of coffee, the whole pot, right? Right. And then drink a lot of water, cups of it, every time you piss, drink another cup of water. Than what? Thats it. Thats it? Thats it, Glenn mumbled. Huh. Well, Glenn said, sitting up. If you really want to beat it, theres a secret. A secret? Glenn nodded, eyes wide, and sipped his white Russian. Whats the secret? Ill tell ya, Glenn garbled and leaned towards me. If you really want to beat it, theres just one thing. He paused appropriately, just long enough for me to raise my eyebrows in waiting. Then he said, bleach. Bleach! I asked. Glenn nodded triumphantly. Ive heard of that, a girl chimed from behind me. Yup, Glenn mumbled.

Being out-of-towners, my father and I soon became the life of the party as everyone drunk and drinking took turns telling us their life story more or less. The blonde girl people were buying shots for was going to jail the



next morning for what we were told was something all of us had done at one time or another. Glenn disappeared probably to the apartment above the bar where throughout the evening people were coming and going. Mostly toothless people. One such man, Jerry or Terry, I forget his name, but he came down from the apartment just about ready to talk to anyone or even himself. He couldnt stop talking and told us all about his many vocations and incarcerations. Back when I was in the Navy, Jerry said flicking back his long mullet and rolling up his shirtsleeve to reveal a faded anchor tattoo, We had just docked and went out and got all shitfaced, spent our money on whores and were coming back to the ship when for whatever reason this asshole started making trouble with my friend who was just about three times bigger than him and ended up throwing him straight through the windshield of a car. And when the cops showed up I was the only one still there just washing the blood off the dock like my C.O. had said to do and the cops start questioning me, run my ID, and say Do you know you have a warrant out for your arrest? Jerry nodded, eyes wide for effect like any good speedfreak during a story. Hell no I didnt know I had a warrant! And he laughed and laughed and my dad and I laughed a little with him until the three of us sighed and sipped our beers. A calm descended on the patrons of the bar. What is there to do around town tonight? I asked. In unison, four drunkards said, Karaoke.

Back at our hotel room to regroup my dad and I smoked a joint and laughed at this tourist trap trip of a town. On the surface, Cambria is just another typical coastal town with kite shops and mom n pop bed n breakfasts but underneath all that, as with most any small California coastal town, is a hub of illegal drug manufacturing, trafficking, and usage, namely crystal-meth. Despite, or simply because of our high level of inebriation my father and I decided we had no choice but to go to karaoke. We were only in town for the night. And the directions to the bar were simple enough: follow Main Street until it ends, take the steps up the hill, youre there. Along the way we stopped at the gas station to buy cigarettes and discovered that the clerk was one of the guys we met earlier at the bar and he was just getting off work and heading to karaoke. He gave us the cigarettes, grabbed a flashlight from behind the counter, locked up the


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store, and led us down Main Street towards a hill, but a hill not like we understood hills. At the end of the street was a densely forested mountain, a steep inclining path through trees and thickly branched shrubbery. Halfway up we needed a break and gas station boy continued his ascent leaving us in the dark. After a cigarette and then another rest stop, my father and I finally reached the peak and entered a clearing. We were standing in someones backyard. And there was no bar in sight.

We wandered through the neighborhood until we came across a group of pedestrians who told us we wanted to go to The Lodge, just down the road and around the corner. And they were right. At the lodge we found everyone we drank with earlier in the evening and our reunion was joyous. They were happy we made it up the hill. The bar was crowded with obvious regulars, twenty-somethings and older who seemed to come every week and sing the same songs. I especially enjoyed the elderly gay man sitting with his legs crossed at a table by himself sipping red wine and applauding loudly for every Hanks sign. Cambria, CA singer. We sat at the bar and drank a beer to recover from our expedition but soon realized there would be no recovery. Cambria had used us up. Then the blonde convict from the first bar stumbled up next to me and ordered a shot. The bartender didnt even turn around before the blonde puked all over the bar, all over herself, splattering some on me, she puked everywhere, and collapsed into the puddle. It was time for us to leave.



Can I get the number for a cab, I asked the bartender. We dont have cabs here, she said. But if you call Hank, hell come pick you up. Whats Hanks number? 927-HELP.

Hank is Cambrias tow-truck driver and on slow nights he moonlights as a cabdriver because, as he explained while driving my dad and me to our hotel, this town has the highest amount of drunk driving incidents. And if I can help the kids to avoid that, then Ill do it. And make a buck in the meantime, I said. I make more money driving kids home than I do towing, Hank said, smiling. He seemed like the type who rarely laughed, a little too calm and level-headed to laugh, something like an insomniac. So when do you sleep? I asked. Between rides, Hank said, steering us down hills and around bends. No one was on the road. Yeah, karaoke night is always the busiest, Hank said. Most everyone goes out on karaoke night.


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he first time I saw !!! they performed with Les Savy Fav in an alleyway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn some hot summer afternoon. I talked with the band that day and made friends. Then on that California roadtrip with my dad, during our first day in Los Angeles, I took a walk down Hollywood Boulevard, turned a corner, and found !!! in an alley behind The Knitting Factory. A photographer was taking their pictures. What are you doing here? The band members asked. What are you doing here? I asked. The boys gave me two tickets to their show that night at The Knitting Factory and we arranged an interview for the next morning at some diner in town. The show was great, I danced my ass off, and we did indeed meet the following morning but the interview was brief and boring, so a few months later, when we were both back in Brooklyn, I called Nic and



asked if he was up for another chat. AP: Do you guys have groupies? NIC OFFER: Sure. Definitely. We didnt use to. But now theres definitely opportunities that we can take. Its not usually the wisest decision. At this point I dont take advantage of it, although I always want to, it just never seems like the right decision. Its usually someone whos a little impressionable. It never works out to be the perfect one night stand type of Yeah, I should totally do this, its not a big deal. But there always seems like theres something attached making it not such a good idea. But I was raised with Catholic morals, so theres this thing in me that cant do the wrong thing. AP: Dont want to take advantage of the young, impressionable girlies? NIC: You got this basic concepts of sin that are imparted on you, you know, if its hurting someone, if youre not being honest, you know Even though Ive thrown all that aside theres still this basic AP: Yeah, I went to Catholic school too. They just grind that shit into you. NIC: I feel like I have more of those concepts of good and bad than my friends do. My friends are like Ahhh, yeah, and Im like But AP: Do the other guys get down with the groupies? NIC: No. Were all shy. Its definitely like you have to do the work. But now its less, it just becomes less and less work. I mean, last time I was afforded that opportunity I didnt have to do anything, it was like, bang, and I was like okay. AP: Its easy when you just have to agree. NIC: Yeah. Well, and plus Im the singer. People feel more comfortable approaching you because youve been talking all night. And youre just the singer, you get more opportunities like that.


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AP: Whats your sign? NIC: Capricorn. AP: Jesus. NIC: What does that mean? AP: Ive sworn off Capricorns. NIC: Well, we dont have to go out. AP: Oh, okay Whats up with the tattoo, whend you get that? (!!! on his arm) NIC: Got this probably two and a half years ago, right before I moved into New York. AP: Everyone in the band? NIC: Yeah. AP: Like a Marine Corps thing? NIC: Yeah. AP: Did you do them yourselves? It looks like a prison tat. NIC: Yeah we did. (Dan) Gorman made a gun out of a guitar string and an electric razor. We all gave them to each other. AP: Like a circle jerk? NIC: No, one at a time. We did them as we were driving across America so it was in the backs of hotel rooms and one we even pulled over and did it at a gas station just to take a break from driving for a while. It was pretty awesome, the sun was setting. It was in Montana somewhere.



I might be movin to Montana soon Just to raise me up a crop of Dental Floss Raisin it up Waxen it down In a little white box I can sell uptown By myself I wouldnt Have no boss, But Id be raisin my lonely Dental Floss Raisin my lonely Dental Floss Well I just might grow me some bees But Id leave the sweet stuff For somebody else But then, on the other hand Id keep the wax n melt it down Pluck some Floss n swish it aroun Id have me a crop An itd be on top Thats why Im movin to Montana - Frank Zappa

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ts not bad here, I told this girl in flirtation at a crowded bar with cheap well drinks. I mean Ive only been in town for a few hours but Im really impressed with Montana. Are you just roadtripping around now or...? Yeah, well, Im working on a documentary for PBS, driving cross country interviewing people we admire. Really? she said smiling. Thats so cool! Who are you interviewing in Bozeman? No one, I said. We were suppose to interview the Tribal Leader of the Crow Indian Nation tomorrow morning but he cancelled so we stopped here for the night. Oh, thats too bad. Whyd he cancel? 57


Death in the family, I said, tossing back the last sip of my rum and coke. I looked at this girl and watched her do the same with her margarita. She was kind of cute, nice body, acne scars, short curly sandy hair, nice smile, a little dirty, unkempt. I bought her a drink. She told me about her recent drive to The Gorge in George, Washington for a Dead/Allman Brothers show and we talked about that. I told her a little about Bonnaroo this year and Phish tour last year. We were getting along nicely, sharing our hippie anecdotes, so when Mike Marriner came up and said he and the others were going back to the RV, I told him to leave the keys on the back wheel and that I would finish my drink and be home soon. What were we saying? I asked the girl. Wait, hes on the roadtrip with you? Yeah. And which one is he? One of the founders. Okay, she said. We sipped our drinks. Hey, I dont suppose you have any pot do you? I asked. Yeah, I have some pot. Why dont we finish these and go back to your place and smoke some? Sure, she said. The only thing is that Im currently between places, and living in my car with all my stuff, but if you want to go, its parked just a few blocks away from here. What kinda car is it? A Saab.

Walking back to the RV drunk and alone I regretted not going back to her car with her and at least smoking some pot, maybe making out a little. She was cute, but just not cute like Im-homeless-cute. And I wanted sex, preferably in a bed. Or the shower. I needed a shower; the last shower I got was in Seattle. And Im thinking all this walking through downtown Bozeman, which is hipper than I imagined. Everyone looks good, year-rounders from the nearby college in loud cowboy bars, wine bars in which the patrons wear only black, not an excess of bars, but more bars than I


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thought Id ever find on any single street in Montana. The night was young. I barely remember the first bar I jumped into. I remember wooden walls, urinal trough, dim lighting, and for some part of my stay a man on a stage in the corner strummed his guitar while singing about LSD or the sixties or something. He looked like a communist, a cartoon communist. I moved up to the bar and ordered another drink. Only couples and lonely drunks like myself in this bar. And everyones having such a good time listening to the music. The song ended. Last call! I moved quickly to the next bar where I made friends with a Native American horse jockey named Carl. He looked like a child actor playing a Native American in some 80s flick: five foot nothing, creamy skin, large eyes, long straight black hair parted in the middle. Last call! So Carl took me across the street and back again into an alley and down a few steps into what he called a secret bar. The place was packed. We ordered a few drinks, I took a piss, and came back to the bar where Carl was calling the beautiful blonde bartender a stinking bitch, clam strip, whore fuck bag! In no time at all we were both back on the street. Carl went his way. I went mine.




cant help but feel fortunate to have made it to Montana unlike Sam Neills character in The Hunt for Red October. Im glad I finally found the state that symbolized America for a fictional character written by Tom Clancy. I fear Ive lived my life in vain before now. Big Fucking Sky Country. You bet your ass it is. And Im hung over. Two nights ago in Spokane, Washington, Jeff and I drank in the Dennys lounge. We hit on nineteen year old waitresses and played Big Buck Hunter as the truckers commiserated over ESPN airing the all-time best baseball bloopers. Jose Canseco, I forgive you. This time. I asked Jeff if Montana has ever seen a hippie before and he said yes, that Montana has been crossbreeding hippies and hicks for years and years, perhaps decades.


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These roads, something between wheelchair access ramps and construction sites, lead not towards marijuana but towards the Dakotas, Mt. Rushmore, and all the landmarks of this great nation, a nation that frowns upon drug use and watches porn with one eye closed. These roads make me wonder why we, as humans, havent figured out a better way to travel, a way that involves less friction, less stress, wind resistance, all that shit. Isnt there a better, more appropriate mode of transportation? And it sure aint airplanes. Or skateboards. Or segways. Fuck a segway. I love my 1992 Safari Recreational Vehicle. Put that on a T-shirt. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. What is it weve come here to find? I feel like the beast were hunting has lead us back to where we started and is now following our trail. The hunted is now the hunter, and ours the strongest of them all. Out here we are alone. I cant tell if the clouds hang low or if the hills stretch high. Out here, train tracks cross the interstate.




o you know what you want to do with your life? Or, for starters, do you know what you want to do this summer? This summer, Roadtrip Nation is launching 3 cross-country roadtrips in green RVs. Each RV will represent a team of three friends, who set out to interview individuals across the country in a search to define their own roads in life. An RTN camera crew will be along for the ride, filming an independent documentary series about the experience. The footage will air on PBS stations around the country in Summer 2005. For your shot at hitting the road with Roadtrip Nation, and exploring roads that you never knew existed, get your team together and apply for the Behind The Wheel program in your career center today.


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We had a week before the deadline. Sam and I had dated on and off for years, but remained good friends so I asked her if she wanted to apply. Of course she said yes, so we asked our friend Jeff, a photographer from Colorado, and he said yes. So we applied. We soon passed the preliminary round and in the final round we were to interview someone and submit the tapes to Roadtrip Nation. We set out to interview a prominent political and cultural figure. Someone with grace and eloquent speech. Someone who would secure our spot on that roadtrip. And only one person fulfilled all those requirements: The Reverend Al Sharpton.

But what a fucking asshole. After weeks of dealing with his secretaries we scheduled a lunch. Success. Or so we thought. His secretary called me that day and canceled. We rescheduled. Less enthusiastic success. When our interview date came around, his secretary called and canceled again. No rescheduling this time. So Sam booked us interviews with Karen Davies, an abstract painter, and Marvin Scott Jarrett, editor of NYLON magazine. Our interviews went splendidly, especially Marvins. Marvin was the founder and September, 1997 initial editor of Bikini magazine, which, back in 1997, published a short story I wrote. The story isnt that good, but at the time, while living in North Carolina, I thought I was hot shit. Hell, I was fifteen years old. Seven years later, interviewing Jarrett was one of those weird comearound-full-circle kind of events. It was in September I think.



The issue with Kiefer Sutherland on the cover? Jarrett asked. Yeah. I remember that issue, he said.

Jeff, Sam, and I mailed off our interviews and remained optimistic, borderline cocky, because quite frankly, we couldnt think of a reason why Roadtrip Nation wouldnt choose us. A few weeks later, I received a phone call right after I finished my final exam for the year, my final exam for college Andy, this is Mike from Roadtrip Nation. Mike, whats up! Listen, we got you on speaker phone and just wanted to ask you one question. Whats that? Howd you like to take a roadtrip this summer?

All the roadtrippers were to spend three days and nights at the Roadtrip Nation Productions office/house in Laguna Beach, California. I arrived at LAX from Chicagos Midway straight off a ten day, nine show Phish tour, camping and partying and not once showering. Sam and Jeff had arrived earlier and the entire Roadtrip Nation crew came to the airport to film our arrivals. Coming straight off tour was not the first impression I wanted to make for my television debut. But you know what? A cowboy only cries when he has to put down the Reverend Al Sharpton his horse. And Illinois doesnt have one single fucking truck wash from Peoria to Chicago. Sam, Jeff, and I comprised only one of the three teams and by the time all nine roadtrippers arrived that first night it was late, everyone was tired, so we ate pizza and pasta and salad and cookies and played


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icebreaker games before turning in early. The next night, however, Sam, the three girls from Chicago (the southern team), and I walked up the street to Taco Loco for dinner. Eating outside at the counter in the California summer air we talked about our colleges. While the girls jabbered amongst themselves, I noticed the television inside, couldnt hear it, but I could see it: highlights from the evenings Black Entertainment Television Awards in Los Angeles. The fourth annual. Had it been a year already? I suppose it had. Exactly one year ago I was with my father in Los Angeles, the last stop on our two-week roadtrip south from Seattle




itting on the steps of The Magic Castle hotel in North Hollywood, I watched Wonder Woman walk down the sidewalk. Is this city, this Los Angeles, the fertile womb or the mass grave of the simulacra? Perhaps this sunny, dusty urban zoo is merely the end of the road, where all who roam eventually sink, like some sprawling, vacuous quagmire. Hey baby! I yelled at Wonder Woman. Yo, baby, let me holla at you for a second. Wonder Woman smiled and waved a cupped hand without breaking her stride. Hey baby, wanna make some money? I know youre freaky, baby,


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let me see them titties! Without even a glance over her shoulder Wonder Woman raised her hand and extended her middle finger. I laughed and watched her disappear over the hill. The traffic on Hollywood Boulevard had not wavered all afternoon. Cars, trucks, buses, limousines, and taxis raced up and down the street running red lights and making left turns from the right lane. My father went for beer almost an hour ago and I caught myself daydreaming about him, six-pack in hand, getting run over by some fake-n-bake, eyebrowpierced burn-out borrowing her mothers pick-up. I grew fearful and decided to go look for him. Walking down Hollywood Boulevard, I step on names like Kermit the Frog, Paula Abdul, Bob Barker, and Rin Tin Tin. I walk past gay bars, Madonna songs oozing out onto the street. One nick-knack, tourist trap store window was pockmarked with Homer Simpson T-shirts, some with Japanese text. I linger near a street performer wearing a Shaq jersey telling racist jokes. Everyone in the crowd holds a video camera aimed at the silly bigot. I hear a growl and suddenly Im face to face with the fucking Hulk, some sad ex-bodybuilder painted green wearing purple hot pants. I quicken my pace and bump into Obi Wan Kenobi, the Ewan McGregor version only fatter. Our eyes meet and he points at my chest while announcing to the masses: Ladies and Gentlemen, Jack Black! Suddenly, people are taking my picture and I feel something bubbling inside me so I take off running. Twenty minutes later I checked my pulse and left the porno store in which I sought shelter. Taking a deep breath, I started the long journey back down Hollywood. Is this the same street? Yes, but these stages, this red carpet, this limousine caravan, none of this was here earlier. I assume Puff Daddy or P Diddy or Bo Diddley is around and think nothing of the commotion until my path is blocked by a small army of the infamous, rarely forgiving LAPD. Whats going on here? I ask one of the Latino police officers. The BET awards. Really? Yup. Id stay away if I were you. Thanks, I say, surveying the scene: lights, squealing hoes, cameras, all kinds of action. I turn off Hollywood, outflanking the pandemonium, and return to The Magic Castle. My father was back in the hotel room, sitting on the edge of the bed,


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said hed been there for an hour. Did you see all that shit? he asked. The BET awards? I said. Yeah, Im thinking about going. My father laughed. You? At the BET Awards? Sure. How much are tickets? Fuck that, Im not buying a ticket. Well, good luck. Thanks, I said, sitting on the edge of the bed and opening one of my fathers beers. I thought you were going to the BET awards? he asked sarcastically. I chugged the beer and tossed it in the trashcan. I am, I said. Youre gonna wear shorts and a T-shirt? Im sure as hell not gonna change, I said, opening the door to leave. Dont wait up.

First, I tried the loading dock, the back entrance to the Kodak Theater. While I argued with the large, bald man guarding the door, a limousine rolled up and parked. The guard stopped listening to me and he turned his attention to the limousine. The limo door swung open and out jumped a skinny little black man wearing a green suit and more gold necklaces than you would think his neck could tolerate. He rubbed his wrists together, rubbed one wrist on his neck, clapped his hands, yelped, and walked past me, past the guard and into the theater leaving in his wake a vapor of sweetly pungent pot smoke and cologne. You gonna let him in and not me! I yelled at the guard. He didnt even look at me when he said, Im done with you. Looking for another back door or a side door or a secret passageway into the theater, I only found a dozen more guards, all gigantic, not to mention unwavering. But I have to be in there, my editor will kill me if I dont get in before it starts! I dont give a fuck, one guard told me. I dont give a fuck, I mocked, walking away. So I went in through the front door of The Radisson Hotel, which I knew was somehow connected to the Kodak Theater. Eventually, I made



my way to the red carpet and amidst a snowstorm of flash bulbs and well-dressed, half-celebrities, I befriended a girl wearing an earpiece and a BET T-shirt. Yes, she was understanding and compassionate. The press table is on the third floor of the hotel, she told me. How do I get there? Its on the other side of the red carpet, so you got to go back outside, around to the Thats not gonna work. I need to be there now, Im already late. She looked me up and down and I wondered if Moesha, I mean Brandi, has a twin sister. What publication are you from? The Village Voice, I said. Oh damn The Village Voice is here, she said to herself. Come on, Ill take you over there. So she blocked the red carpet traffic and I crossed over, landing on the other side like a fucking gymnast. Moesha then led me down hallways and up escalators until we reached the press table. I expressed no gratitude and she returned to her post. The press table was swarming with clean-shaven, good-looking black men, all of them talking at once. At the my expired Village Voice intern ID desk sat a cornrowed Malcolm Jamal Warner and a round-faced Nicole Kidman. Pushing my way through the journalists, I chose the woman: Hi, my name is Andrew Smith, Im here to pick up my press pass. What type of media? She asked. Print, I replied. She grabbed one of three stacks of paper, one of three lists in front of her. What was your name again? Andrew Smith. Do you have any ID? Uh, sure, I mumbled, digging through my wallet for my expired temporary employee ID card from my internship stint at The Village Voice. Will this work? I asked, handing her the card. Oh sure, thanks very much, Chubby Kidman said.


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No problem, I said, quickly returning the card to my pocket. I wondered if there was a legitimate writer from The Voice in the building. I fought off a chill of paranoia as I watched Chubby Kidman run her finger down the S page. She took a pencil and started to cross off a name on the list but stopped and looked up at me. Whatd you say your first name was? Andrew. Huh, Chubby Kidman grunted. They have Olajuwon here on the list. I laughed as hard as I could while still sounding sincere. How they gonna confuse Olajuwon with Andrew? I said and kept laughing. Kidman laughed too. Sorry about that, she said. Its okay, I said, sneaking a glace over my shoulder to make sure I didnt recognize anyone or more so that no one recognized me. So heres your press kit, Kidman said, handing me a purple folder. And heres your pass. But she pulled back the press pass just as I reached for it. Youre from Michigan, right? Yes and Im already late! I yelped. Okay, here you go, its just through those doors. So I hung the caution-orange pass around my neck, tucked the folder under my arm, and stridently walked through the metal detector. Success. I was inside. Black Entertainment Television is my bitch! Amen, brother, said a passing journalist. Amen, I prayed with him.

The pressroom consisted of a stage with one flat screen television on each side, two sections of seating, three rows of tables where those with laptops could set up, and a large, entirely free buffet. I wasnt even hungry but I filled a plate with fried chicken and roast beef and collard greens and watermelon and mashed potatoes and spare ribs. And I ate it all. Then the MC, the stylish love-child of Denzel Washington and Mike Tyson, stepped onto the stage and said, Okay, so for those of you just coming in, this is how its gonna work. If youre a photographer, go in the other room. All the winners will walk through there for photo-ops



before coming in here for questioning. Yall can stay in here if you want but there will be no standing during the Q and As. You will remain seated and all photographs will be taken from your seat. If you have a question for one of the award winners, simply raise your hand, hold em high, and one of the girls will bring you a microphone. Lets do this right; were all professionals here. I sat up straight and smoothed out my T-shirt. And if you havent noticed already, the MC continued. There isnt a free bar this year. Last year yall drank enough for two years and that


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cost me a lot of money. But if you want, were selling beer and wine and I think some champNo, theres no champagne. No Cristal! So enjoy yourselves, eat something if ya havent and we should be starting in about twenty minutes, the MC concluded and exited stage right. I got comfortable, crossed my legs at the thighs and eavesdropped on conversations: Call her up, shes damn freaky, the guy behind me said to his friend as they flipped through a stack of womens headshots. And then I said, Oh hell no! yelped the hootchie-momma sitting in front of me. Her thong was royal blue. Glancing around, I noticed an elevated platform in the back corner where four obscenely huge musclemen stood, arms crossed, slowly swiveling their heads from one side to the other, scanning the room, always pausing on me, one of only two white men. The other honky sat in the last row of seats. He kept his head down, careful not to make eyecontact with anyone. I watched a Rasta ask him if the seat next to him was taken. The honkey flinched and quickly shook his head. Then it hit me. What if Olajuwon Smith shows up? The monster security guards would have no trouble finding the T-shirt-wearing, bushy-bearded, loud-mouthed white boy, as Chubby Kidman would undoubtedly describe me. I took a deep breath and calmed myself. Im not going down without a fight, I decided and smiled at the thought of getting carried out of the pressroom screaming about racism and discrimination and the first amendment, I got a goddman right to be here! Suddenly, the pair of flat screen televisions flashed and the whole room was filled with a loud, booming voice: The Third Annual BET awards! People scurried to their seats and got ready, pulling out notebooks and cameras and tape recorders. I had nothing. I watched the television as the host, big, bad MoNique, waddled on stage and hollered, Oh yes she did, implying that she knew she was way too fuckin fat for her pseudo-church outfit. After she gave a short monologue, Stevie Wonder presented the first award to 50 Cent. When Stevie took the stage in the pressroom, everyone applauded warmly. First question for Mr. Wonder? The MC asked the crowd. I held my hand up high; the MC looked right at me, and then pointed



to the Hootchie-momma blocking my view of Stevie. Im a big fan, Mr. Wonder, she said after snatching the microphone from some BET intern. I was just wondering what it was like to present an award to 50 Cent. Dumb bitch, I mumbled as Stevie, blind but confident, answered the question. I didnt care enough to listen. Finally, after a handful of questions, the MC pointed at me and the BET intern handed me the microphone. Thank you all very much, Stevie said, grabbing the arm of the lucky lackey in charge of leading him off stage. Mr. Wonder, I said anyway, Whom are you more afraid of, Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein? The whole room was silent. Stevie stopped mid-stride, cocked his head to one side, and then pushed his lackey to keep leading him off stage. The intern snatched the microphone from my hand and I felt the glares of two hundred angry and confused black journalists. What the fuck did he just ask? someone said. Telling myself to remain calm, not to display any fear, I slowly, slowly, I told myself, walked out of the pressroom. I walked back through the metal detectors, exited The Radisson Hotel, and slipped into the first bar I found. Whatll it be? Three shots of your top shelf tequila. The bartender raised an eyebrow. I just stared at him until he turned and reached for the bottle. While he poured my shots I caught him stealing a glance at the press pass dangling from my neck. Then he looked over his shoulder at the television airing the BET awards Live from the Kodak Theater in beautiful Los Angeles California. Uh the bartender exhaled, looking at my pass, at the television, back at my pass. Shouldnt you be at the awards show? It aint going no where, I said. Just keep the juice coming.

Back in the pressroom, full of Patron label courage, I took a seat and asked my neighbor, a beautiful black cherry, Nubian Sex-Kitten, Whod I miss? Snoop, she replied.


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Snoop was here! Uhm-Hmm. D-O-Double G was here an I missed it? Uhm-Hmm. Fuck! The sex kitten laughed. Whats your name? I asked. She looked at me through Gucci sunglasses, smiled like one smiles at an adolescent, and casually redirected her attention to one of the televisions. I shrugged and peeked over my shoulder looking around the room with lustful intent. Which one of these girls wants a short, hairy Irish boy? I wondered. One word: Beyonce. I wanted to lick the flat screen television when Beyonce performed Crazy In Love. My Lord! That girl (shes only twenty-one), has a face sculpted unlike any model on the Eastern Seaboard, more moves than a Swedish hooker, and more leg than any man can imagine wrapped around his waist. Or his face. Yo, that girls got it goin on. But no, she didnt pop in the pressroom for a little Q and A. I never saw her in the flesh. No James Brown either. The Hardest Working Man In Show Business is too busy for that. Sure, he performed, did his melody routine, slip-sliding across the stage only to traditionally fall on his knees and to everyones shock, maybe even to The Godfather of Soul himself, none other than Michael Jackson walked out to drape the cape around Browns shoulders. The King Of Funk immediately raised up and embraced The King Of Pop. Ladies and Gentlemen, it was a sight to see. And after the two had a dance off, Michael presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Soul Brother Number One. Let me take a moment to say, Mr. Jackson, you werent the only one crying tears of admiration, joy, and utter senselessness. But no, neither Jimmy nor Mike graced the press with a Q and A. What would people say if there were three white men in the room? Ladies and Gentlemen, the MC announced as someone turned down the volume of the continuing awards show. The CEO of the BET, Mr. Bob Johnson and Mr. Earvin Magic Johnson. Everyone could see the two men hovering off stage right. Fuck, hes tall, I slurred to myself. Please be specific when directing your questions to either Mr.



Johnson or Mr. Johnson, the MC said. Both Johnsons walked on stage and shook hands with the MC. The second one, the ludicrously smaller one, had a cheerleader clinging to each arm. In form-fitting red and black uniforms, one cheerleader was warm milk chocolate and one was chai tea. They smiled widely, happy to caress Bob Johnsons navy blue, six-figure suit. Yes, Bob Johnson, chuckled, Let us know who youre talking to. The cheerleaders giggled. During the Johnson & Johnson Q and A, I predicted every single boring-ass my father at The Magic Castle question. Magic, tell me about AIDS charities. Bob, what advice would you give todays young black men living in the ghetto? Magic, what size shoe do you wear? Bob, is it true what they say about The Man? Then, it was over. Thank you all for being so considerate, the MC said as the Johnsons stepped off stage. The BET awards will be re-aired in thirty minutes so if you want to rush home, you can catch all the parts you may have missed. Again, thank you and goodnight. I loitered for a few minutes hoping to get an after-party invite. I gave the editor of Jet Magazine my business card and flirted with Miss Cocoa Butta, but eventually I left, wanting another drink. Making my way back out The Radisson Hotel, I felt like a survivor, the unequaled king of espionage. Hollywood Boulevard was flooded with both young and old alike, desperate for a glimpse at stardom. They clutched their digital cameras with sweaty palms and took snapshots of everyone; famous or not, the public assumed they were. I was swimming upstream, away from the lights, the magic, the Johnsons, the glamorous


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buffet, another tropical storm of fleshy pretension. But it is Los Angeles, the birthplace of Darryl Strawberry, Judge Lance Ito, and Val Kilmer. Yes this place has class, a reputation to uphold. Wedged between Malibu and San Diego, this city of angels attracts only dreamers and losers. Eventually, the faade will crumble and Los Angeles will be revealed for what it truly is: a Plasticine commune, something like a Sodom and Gomorrah theme park hologram where if the police dont kill you, the air will. As I made my way down side streets leaving the stroboscopic pandemonium behind me, I realized that only now, June 24th 2003, had we finally achieved Manifest Destiny. This is it. Theres no place left to turn. Los Angeles has it all: the booze, the tits, the fame, the blame, the sun, and the moon. And it all looks the same. And its cheaper every day. Climbing the steps of The Magic Castle I wished I could have asked just one more question. What does one do after the orgy? But only the Hollywood Hills know the answer. They whisper through the wind, and if you stand perfectly still, holding your breath, looking at just the right spot on the horizon, youll hear them say: One succulent breast, one delicious waffle. For there is no truth in Los Angeles. No sincerity. No brotherly love. This city will never fade. Ideas like Los Angeles can only implode, scattering dust and ash across the desert. Back in the hotel room, my father giggled when I showed him my press pass. Did you meet any celebrities? he asked. Not really, I said, opening a beer and turning on the television.




he pimp at 389 Classon is a skinny man with a square jaw and a penchant for correct English, constantly emphasizing the often dropped are in the all-too-common greeting, How you doing? When his prostitutes are available, he sits on the stoop listening to jazz tapes on a small boom box. When the prostitutes are occupied, the boom box is silent. Inside the house, every surface, every wall, every coffee table, every stolen park bench is wallpapered with pornography. Framed nude portraits hang on the walls already covered with pornography. I had just needed to use the telephone and the girls could see it on my face and left me alone. All but one girl: a girl named Tay-Tay. Ill suck your dick for a cigarette, she told me. No thanks, I replied. Tay-Tay laughed.


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Occasionally, the 389 pimp will get into arguments with the crackheads who live at 419, the building adjacent to my building. Linda, the head crackhead and dealer, has the tendency to distract the working girls luring them into her building away from their pimp. Some nights, especially Saturdays, Linda and her friends will start partying, yelping, screaming, cackling, hollering, and dancing at ten or eleven and not finish until well into the next afternoon. Mike Sotto gets quite upset when this happens and sticks his head out the window to offer an angry, passiveaggressive SSHHHHHHHHHHHHH! to which Linda usually replies with a simple, Shut the fuck up, Mike! Excluding the occasional party at 419, and the speakeasy across the street, Classon Avenue is quiet between four and five in the morning. During that single hour, no cars roll down the street, no one exits the subway, no one sits on their stoop, even the thugs waiting to mug drunks have called it a night. The street, littered with chicken bones, empty dime bags, broken glass, and rotten meat Blackie dug out the trash and then abandoned, is calm and practically silent. Only a faint clicking can be heard every few minutes as the street light changes from green to yellow to red.

When the sun rises, and the street cleaner clambers past, the street comes back to life. Endless traffic appears out of seemingly nowhere. People come outside to sit on their stoops and say Hi and Bye to pedestrians they know well or not at all. The women who live in the shelter on Lex stand outside and start their day with a solid hour of chain-smoking. Tittie Dog and Blackie make their rounds, collecting as much of a feeding as generous souls will grant them. And at eight oclock sharp every morning the man who lives on the top floor of 417 Classon climbs to the roof and lets his pigeons loose. The flock makes circles in the sky. Then figure eights. An ebb and flow of wings and beaks and feathers and talons. The mornings after rambunctious evenings in the building next to ours, Mike Sotto stammers, People work in the day and sleep at night, why dont they get that? But Mike doesnt work. He spends his afternoons taping John Wayne movies off television, a procedure Ive taught Mike numerous times. He really likes Steve McQueen too. And Chuck Norris. Coming home Ill find Mike on the corner wearing a bright yellow hooded sweatshirt (hood on), talking to Linda and the other girls. Mike



always says hi without missing a beat in his conversation. His greetings are seamless. Linda never says hi to me unless I say hi to her. And even then its hit or miss. But she and Mike are something like friends. Without fail, on calm, quiet Saturday mornings, a shrill, guttural, Mike! will sound. Sometimes Lindas tone is curt and frantic, and when Mike replies with his standard, bothered but complacent, What? Linda usually gets right to the point: COME TO THE DOOR! Sometimes though, Linda and Mike will have long, detailed conversations without leaving their living rooms. Do you have crazy glue? No, Im crazy enough. Got any cookies? Let me use your wagon. Come over and get it. At the beginning of the month, Lindas call is warm and friendly, stretching out Mikes name into song. At the beginning of the month, everyone sings. The Emmanuel Baptist Church kitty-corner to my building opens its rusty metal garage door during the summer. When they sing, the melodies reach my apartment and wake me up like the most pleasant alarm clock one could imagine. Heavens alarm clock. After the singing and the sermon, after Ive had my coffee and eggs, Ill walk past the church, outside of which dozens of families mingle. The men stand tall with hands in pockets discussing the recent changes in the neighborhood. The women huddle together laughing loudly and speaking quickly while the children run circles around them. To say that these churchgoers are well dressed would be a severe understatement. Theyre wearing their best lime green suits and baby-blue gowns with matching hats, and theyre wearing them beautifully, with confidence and purpose. Make room for the man, the preacher announces as I approach the mass of churchgoers. I usually just smile, but one time I approached one of the more jubilant women and told her how much I appreciated the singing. Oh thank you, child. Thank you. And God bless you. Next door to the Baptist Church is the Friendly Food Center bodega, home of the coldest cooler and subsequently the coldest beer on Classon Avenue. The sign out front is circus red and yellow with an outline of large red and yellow light bulbs like the kind found on theme park rides. I once saw a person stabbed outside the Friendly Food Center. Everyone ran except the stabber who just walked away. And the victim, of course. He bled silently on the sidewalk until the police and EMTs arrived.


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JOU R NAL E NTRY: 06/30/04 12:37 am. Laguna Beach, CA

here are millions of beautiful women in this world and often times two or more may remind you of each other in either appearance or mannerisms or both and may in fact be similar and not your personal mental association. In these cases, you must remind yourself that yes indeed there is individuality, yes indeed there is heartbreak, yes indeed there is love. And then you must pretend there is none. Because if you keep waiting for the next one or the one that reminds you of the last one youll end up like those stereotypical cat freak women only youll be a man and so much less of a man because of it.
* R H I N E STON E CE LLP HON E This morning I was too slow for the first pot of coffee and when Nathan



made the second pot he forgot to drop the coffee grinds in the percolator. Nevertheless I managed to slam down three cups of strong Kona coffee while everyone at the table talked about albatross and surfing. I read the Orange County paper, articles about the premature handover of power in Iraq. Those bastards, getting out while the gettings good. 100,000 troops, two days early, and Brennan is already back in the States eating grapes and drinking moonshine. If I saw him on the street Id punch him in the neck. Who do they think theyre fooling? No one at breakfast cared. I remember when the war started. I remember before the war started. And I remember September tenth. Now Im a college graduate leaving tomorrow on this road trip to meet with visionaries and leaders about their roads and paths in life and all I can think is that this is the last taste of freedom any of us will have for the rest of our lives. But now Im being pessimistic. On the plus side: today I learned to drive a forty-foot recreational vehicle. We are not cars. We are not commuters. This is a mission, a quest. And if the journey is indeed the destination, well then we are all Magellans. Polos, Vespuccis, Astronauts, each and every one of us. But now we sleep. Theres much to be done tomorrow.


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Five weeks. Five people. One RV. Sixteen states. Two Canadian Provinces. Thirty-five interviews. 5,780 miles. July 1 st -August 1 st , 2004.


am eternally grateful for the experience of participating in the Roadtrip Nation project. At the time, it felt like it could be RTNs big breakout, first year having three RVs, three trips instead of one, and I have no doubt that in years to come RTN will continue to grow to wondrous and unforeseen levels of participation. Mike, Nathan, Brian, Cecily, thank you so very much. I am honored to have driven across the country with Mike Marriner, Chuck DeRossa, Samantha Weiss, and Jeffrey Klaperich. And I am delighted to have been in the presence of the sort of ambition and determination necessary to actualize a dream such as Roadtrip Nation. By founding RTN, and working against all odds to fulfill its potential, Mike, Nate, and Brian have not only found their own roads in life, but also paved an entirely new road to be used by likeminded young people for years and years to come. And I feel privileged to have been a part of it. This section of the book is written in full cooperation with Roadtrip Nation Productions. Mike Marriner, youre blowing my mind.




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tarring on a reality television series is tricky business. It tests the ego. Sometimes you feel nihilistic and have absolutely nothing to contribute to the catalogue of history. Often you feel schizophrenic. And you loose sleep. Sometimes the camera is your master and you its indentured servant. Sometimes the camera is your audience who loves you unconditionally. Sometimes the camera is invisible, and sometimes you ignore it. But the camera is always there. And you never forget it. You act. You struggle to be truthful and honest. Real. Real-ity television.



Its difficult. Dont pretend to know something you dont. Dont try to be funny. Dont say anything sexist, ageist, prejudiced, bigoted, anything at all blinkered or fraudulent. And we all tell bad, dirty jokes, we all cuss, we all drink, we all smoke, we all laugh at the expense of others, we all tell lies, we all eat our boogers, we all look in the mirror. You cant miss your reflection in the camera lens. Its unavoidable. Consequently, the struggle of spending every waking moment looking into the deep, reflective barrel of a camera aimed at your face, the struggle is not to hide the truths that could blemish your character. Thats the editors job. Your struggle is to be as truthful and uncontrived as possible. Sixty-five million homes nation-wide. Subjective is the objective truth when thinly shared between sixtyfive million homes. To fight that is futile.


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n planning our trip, we searched out upcoming concerts and music festivals in the towns wed be passing through. The Portland Waterfront Blues Festival happens every year in early July and we arranged to interview the Director of the Festival as well as the Director of The Oregon Food Bank towards which all the festivals proceeds go. The interviews were interesting, as all of them were, but for space and pacing, not all of the thirty-five interviews we conducted will be featured in this book. After the Blues Fest interviews we each went our separate ways. The festival crowd was quite diverse, just like the music: blues, jazz, zydeco, rock, and a few fringe genres. I remained near the second stage, in the VIP tent drinking free beer in the balmy heat. It was the first time Id been alone since the trip began.



And it was the first time I came to realize what this trip could mean for me. And something of what it meant for Roadtrip Nation. The Blues Festival would be only one of many events resultant from the roadtrip. This documentary could become something of a testament to the time, an outline of youth and America during the summer of 2004. Who are these people, these Americans? And who are we to investigate it? I thought of all this with beer in hand waiting on line for entrance to the Porta-Potty enclave. A man standing near me had no shoes on. Dude, wheres your shoes? I asked. He looked down at his loosely socked feet. Then back up at me. I dont know, he said.

Initially, Sam, Jeff, and I were under the impression that we would have creative input on the project, meaning that we would shoot some of the footage and shape the content to fit what we deemed important for the documentation of our experience. Slowly, a power struggle emerged between us (the subjects) and Mike and Chuck (the cameramen). Throughout California it seemed that Mike and Chuck wanted to distance themselves from us and our experience. They were to remain behind the scenes and less than involved with the subjects they were filming. For me, Sam, and Jeff, this was a problem. They were a part of the roadtrip as much as we were, behind the cameras or otherwise. And for the first few days this created some conflict. But come Portland, and the Blues Festival, all that began to change. Chuck, a New Jersey native and graduate student at UCLA film school, had contracted the hippie plague I brought back from Phish tour and was resting in the RV after the Festival so Mike, Sam, and I went out for drinks with an old friend Mike Marriner ran into on the waterfront. And his friend brought some friends too so we all went to a karaoke bar and sang song after song because Mikes friend kept tipping the MC. At some point the shoeless drunkard from the festival stumbled in the bar with whom I could only assume was his significant other. Still shoeless, he recognized me. And we all got drunk together. When we returned to the RV Chuck told us a story. Apparently, while we were out barhopping, or perhaps it was when we stopped in at Voodoo Donut for a late-night snack, someone entered the RV and his clumsiness woke Chuck napping in the back. Sure enough, this guy jumped out the


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RV clutching one of the video cameras and started running. Chuck, the savior that he is, chased after him and retrieved the camera. Karaoke, illness, drunkenness, old friends, new friends, foiled thievery, day three, one RV After that night, we were all in it together.




ts strange to recognize freeways, to be familiar with the asphalt veins of this country. The stretch of Interstate 5 from Tacoma to Seattle is a road Ive traversed innumerable times. As is the section of interstate just north of the city into the U District. I can close my eyes and clearly picture the curves and bends of the freeway, the inclines and depressions, merging traffic, speed traps, the exit numbers and where they lead, the billboards, the tree line and the thin places where you can see through it into the backyards of families homes. That morning, heading north on I-5 towards my parents house, I was excited. I sang Bob Dylan songs at the top of my lungs in the passenger seat. It was the fourth of July.


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We backed the RV into the driveway as my parents stood watching, grinning in the doorway. In the house, my mother had arranged platters of cheese and salmon and chips and dip and grapes and crackers and was cooking either omelets or breakfast burritos to order. It had been only a few months since I last saw my parents but that was graduation and this was something else entirely. My mother made me a bloody mary, spicy with pimento olives like I like it, and everyone sat on the back porch talking. That back porch has always acted as a meditative environment for me. A milestone marker of sorts. And that fourth of July was no exception. That back deck is, simply put, a good place to look back at my life, and sometimes, a good place to look ahead.

Mike and Chuck soon left for the ferry to visit Mikes mother on Vashon Island and that afternoon Sam, Jeff, and I drove my dads mustang to a nearby movie theater where we saw Fahrenheit 9-11. I was pleasantly surprised by the crowd in the theater. Who goes to see this film on the fourth of July? Elderly couples, twenty-somethings on dates, teenagers, single mothers, all sorts really, the theater was packed. I thought it something wonderful. Im sure youve seen the film. We drove home in silence. No radio. Back at the house I retreated into my old bedroom for a moment alone. I couldnt really breathe sitting there on my bed surrounded by the last vestige of evidence indicating that it was indeed my room. My clock radio, my stereo, a few small paintings, my bedside table, my bedside table drawer full of keepsakes, my bedside table lamp I started to cry. I wept until my throat hurt and my nose ran rivers of snot. Regaining my composure, I returned to the kitchen where my mother was making drinks for everyone on the back deck. She embraced me and once again I wept, sobbing in her arms and afterwards, recovered and amongst friends, I struggled to remember the last time I cried in my mothers arms.

That night my friend Rob came over in his glorious 1961 Buick Skylark. And Sparky came over too. Have you seen the new Stranger? Sparky asked me. The Stranger



is Seattles alternative weekly newspaper. No, I said. We just rolled into town. Hold on, I have it in my car, Sparky said, ran outside, and came back with the paper. He was smiling wildly. I looked at the cover. It was a brilliant illustration of a Seattle family on the pier. And I recognized the style immediately. It was Mike Force. The week I returned to Seattle, fourth of July weekend, Mike Force did the cover of The Stranger, a paper we not only read every week growing up in Seattle, but a paper Mike and I respected above all other weekly rags. The timing was perfect and we all laughed and clapped and celebrated for Mike whom I soon called on the phone and congratulated. Its beautiful, I told Mike. Mike laughed, happy it was a surprise for me.

Sparky, Rob, Sam, Jeff, and I then had a few drinks with my parents before driving to a party where we met Steve whom I hadnt seen since our camping trip at The Gorge. The party was a roof party and we knew no one. It was Sparkys girlfriends building and she was out of town but we decided it would be a good place to start, a good place to have a few first drinks, a good place to watch the fireworks. And it was. Someone at the party tuned the boombox to the radio station that played a composition meant to be in time with the fireworks. It was terribly cheesy. The fireworks and the song were just slightly out of sync. But we all agreed the fireworks themselves, the light, the boom that reverberated through your body just milliseconds after the light hit your eyes, was, as always, somewhat impressive. Pretty. When the pyrotechnics concluded and the sky was dark again we hit the bars. But for some reason, most of the bars were closed and those that werent were completely empty, which made me think two things: one, that people in Seattle dont celebrate the anniversary of the independence of this nation or two, people in Seattle dont drink to celebrate. Either way, it fucked with my head. Eventually, we settled on some hollow bar in Capitol Hill. As is my habit, I showed the bartender my military ID instead of my drivers license. I like to fuck with people sometimes.


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Now, I want to be clear here. I have only a dependants ID because my father was in the army. But sometimes people just assume Im in the military, and looking at melong dreadlocks and a beardthey tend to ask what I do for the military.

I was the diplomatic liaison between the coalition troops and the Taliban in Afghanistan, I told the bartender that night. So you speak Israeli? she asked. I speak many languages, I told her. Wow, she said, handing back my ID. How is it over there? How do you think it is? Right I nodded. Wow, she said. I really feel for you guys out there. She touched my hand. What can I get you? A shot of tequila and two pitchers of beer, I said. She filled my order and when I pulled out my cash she said, Not tonight. Not tonight? No soldier pays for drinks in my bar on the fourth of July.



I moved to Seattle when The Stranger paid us in pizza and didnt make a cent. If you want to write, writing is one of those jobs like acting. There are so many people who, A) think theyre qualified, and B) are willing to do it for free at first, that you have to be too. Or youre never going to get a foot in the door. Dan Savage


an Savage is an author, sex columnist, and editor of Seattles alternative weekly newspaper The Stranger. When I lived in Seattle I read The Stranger every week. Interviewing Dan felt more intimate than other interviews because it was my old town. And because Ive read his work for years and years


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and years. The day before we interviewed Dan, we interviewed Jon Richards, KEXP DJ. The next morning Jon had Mike Marriner and me on his show to talk about Roadtrip Nation. A reporter from KING 5 news on his way to work happened to hear that mornings KEXP broadcast. That morning he tracked down our bright green RV, called a cameraman, and they accompanied us for our interview at The Strangers office in Capitol Hill.

SAM: Were just trying to find out when you were twenty-two years old, where were you at and how did you get to where you are today? DAN: Its funny, all the clichs apply. No one does what they studied. No one winds up doing what they thought they would be when they grew up. When I was twenty-two I was in West Berlin sucking dick. And I recommend it. Unfortunately West Berlin doesnt exist anymore. Theres still German dick to suck; its just not gonna be West Berlin. You know, I have a degree in theater and performance which has helped me a lot in shaping the paper because we, like a lot of newspapers, we look at the paper as a performance, and each issue as a show were putting on that has a beginning, a middle, an end, a finale, an intro, and we think of doing a newspaper as sort of a theatrical event every week. When I was twenty-two I was not doing this and not ever thinking I would end up doing this. You have to just sort of be prepared to change course if opportunity presents itself. What a fatous bag of slop I am. AP: How did you get from West Berlin to Seattle? DAN: I moved to West Berlin with a boyfriend from college because he got a fellowship from the West Germany government so I went and was a house kraut and just sort of hung out. I was there in 89, I was there when the wall came down, I was there a year after, a year before and it was just sort of an awesome time to be alive and to be in Eastern Europe. And then he wanted to get a degree in arts management so he went to the university in Madison, Wisconsin and then we were going to go back to Berlin. Then he got a job on the road in the United States for a year with an opera company and I met the people who were starting The Stranger who were all based in Madison at the time, and they asked me to write an



THE STRANGER, VOL. 13 #42, July 4th, 2004 Actually, no offence to [Mike FORCE], I hate this cover. I just hate the sepia tone. I wanted it colored in. I hate these two-tone covers. And they kill pick up. Dan Savage


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advice column for their paper and I did. And it was just a joke it wasnt what I thought I would do when I grew up. I certainly never thought Id be the editor of the paper. And after my boyfriend got his job on the road for a yearits such a complicated storyI came here to just hang out and write the column and ended up working here and ended up staying and breaking up with my boyfriend. AP: Writing was never an initial passion for you? DAN: No, writing was something I never pictured myself doing. I thought I would be working for a theater company. When I first moved here I was still into theater, I started a theater here, I directed a bunch of really successful plays here, and made a success of my theater company here, but doing successful theater in Seattle is like, I dont know, its like doing successful ballet in Alaska. It doesnt really matter. And its not going to get you anywhere professionally in the long run. Its like throwing a rock down a well and never hearing a splash. So I stopped and just started focusing on writing. I didnt think of myself as a writer. If you read the first couple years of Savage Love its clear that I wasnt a writer. But nothing makes you a better writer than writing all the time. And nothing makes you write all the time like having a whole newspaper to fill up. JEFF: So would you say the paper is your passion? DAN: Absolutely. I dont even go to theater anymore. I hardly ever think of theater anymore. Ive made this paper into a kind of theater. And I enjoy the performance aspect of it. Our competitors once called us stunt journalists. Because we do stunts, we do things, beyond just blah blah blah, read our newspaper. We put out events and we ambush politicians and we have fun because newspapers should have fun. And if it wasnt fun we wouldnt be doing it. Blah, blah, blah, who put a nickel in me? I dont even remember what your question was. And I smoke pot. JEFF: (laughing) I asked you if the paper is your passion. DAN: Yes, absolutely, although I hate Seattle. Seattle is a shit town. Whatever you do, dont wind up in Seattle. Theres no public transportation. Try getting a decent meal after ten oclock. The theater here really stinks. And everyone here seems to think this is Paris, France.



The best of all possible worlds. And its almost Dubuque, Iowa, its so provincial and freaked out. But its so enamored with itself and the gulf between Seattles high opinion of itself and the reality of Seattle is so enormous that if youve lived anywhere else you cant stand dealing with people who are from here, who are convinced its the most beautiful spot in the world. What do you love about Seattle? Oh, the mountains are gorgeous! Well, the mountains arent in Seattle. If you ask someone in Manhattan what they love about New York, and they dont say, Vermont is so beautiful! One of the things weve been trying to do with the paper is make this city the city we want to live in because were all stuck here, this is where our paper is. Weve been really hyper and active about pushing the monorail project here because we think Seattle needs rapid transportation like other big cities. We do advocacy journalism around rapid transit, of all issues. You know, a lot of people who are only familiar with Savage Love wouldnt think my other passion besides writing sex advice is writing about transportation issues, but it is! Because I want Seattle to be more like New York and Chicago and San Francisco and London and Rome and Paris and other cities that know what theyre doing and know how to be a big city. Seattle wants all the credit of being a world-class, big city without paying any of the dues, which include rapid transit and, you know, enduring the occasional riot. Im sure you heard about the WTO riots. It was nothing. Worse happened in Chicago whenever the Bulls won whatever it is you win when youre a basketball team. One Starbucks got torn apart. We have 4,000 others. We could have a riot that destroys one Starbucks a year for 4,000 years and never run out of Starbucks. And everyone here just acted like it was the end of the freaking world that a Starbucks got sacked. SAM: So your passion for the paper is enough to keep you here despite all that? DAN: Yeah! Because what I get to do with the paper is work on changing the city. You know, I really think The Stranger has helped change how city council members get elected and whos on the city council, changed the face of the city in that way. You talk to monorail activists and they credit the stranger with keeping the issue alive at its darkest moments and lowest hours. They tell you the monorail project wouldnt exist now but for The Strangers advocacy. So its fun. Its fun to kick the shit out of


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this town. The one thing that recommends it is that its a small enough town that you can make a real difference if you have any energy or drive and its a big enough town that it matters, in a way, to make a difference. And everyone whos from here is so convinced that this is just the city on the hill, the best place on earth, that theyre really passive and stupid, so local people from Seattle are really slow, stupid, slow-moving sloths who are easy to pick off, which is what weve done. Weve destroyed our competition. Were bigger than The Weekly, which was bigger than us when we started and we mop the floor with them every week because theyre a bunch of Seattlite bone-heads who think their shit doesnt stink. And everyone at the Stranger hates themselves and works really hard not to suck. And everyone whos from Seattle thinks they dont suck when they wake up in the morning. Self-loathing, its a good value. Makes you work harder. (The KING 5 cameraman and reporter stand to leave.) KING-5 CAMERA MAN: Now tell us what you really think, Dan. DAN: (laughing.) Im pretty shy with my opinion. But KING 5 news is great. I love Don Porter on the weekend. KING-5 CAMERA MAN: Bye. DAN: See you later. AP: So you had no intention of being a writer? DAN: Often times the job youre supposed to have finds you. And that was the case. Often times what you thought you wanted to do when you grew up wound up just being a good way to prepare for what you were gonna do when you grew up I also think it helps that a lot of us here are gay. Even though were not a gay newspaper. AP: Why is that? DAN: Because gay people hate themselves and I think thats an overlooked virtue. You know, were always sort of worried about how were



perceived. Were always sort of wondering if were walking straight or acting straight or looking gay or whatever and that sort of introspection and dissatisfaction with your own self, means were always dissatisfied with our own product. Im always unhappy with The Stranger. I obsess about whats not working and try to fix it rather than being all smug and self-satisfied like our competition, which is run by nothing but straight, white guys. You need some fags around. AP: What would happen if The Stranger failed? DAN: Seattle would suck a little more if we failed, if we went away. But I dont think were gonna go away. Were on really solid footing. And we have fun every week. And weve made Seattle a better place and were still putting out a paper we think is interesting and people respond to it. You know, were twelve pages bigger than the other weekly this week, we were forty-eight pages bigger than them a couple of weeks ago, we were twenty pages bigger last week. Were wiping up the floor with them. (Dan points to a pair of Seattle Weekly covers tacked on the wall.) Look at this bullshit. Look at this. September 20th. Human fat is still burning in lower Manhattan and theyre grabbing their ankles. Oh,


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Peace! Peace! What fucking dumbass pussies. AP: And when is the one above it from? DAN: Right before the Iraq war. March, 2003. SAM: They must really like that graphic. DAN: Well, theyre for peace. You know, thats a pretty easy thing to be for. Im for motherhood. AP: I remember reading some articles you wrote at the beginning of the war that were pretty hawkish. DAN: And Im still pretty hawkish Im still hawkish in this Ann Coulter-ish way about Islamo-faciscm. The only person who made any sense on September 12th was Christopher Hitchens. He coined the term Islamo-Fascism. I think there was a point when pacifism replaced sort of thoughtful lefty values of war and peace. And I was appalled by the hypocrisy of the left leading up to the Iraq war. I think the Iraq war has been a disaster for all the reasons Ted Rall laid out in The Stranger. And we invited Ted Rall back and paid him again to write sort of a told you so essay when it turned out that he was the one who was right about how it was going to go. That even if you believed that the war was potentially justas I did and still dothat the Bush administration werent the yahoos to run it. That they were gonna fuck it up. And he was right. And they did But you know the left runs around and says, Oh, war never solved anything. War solved the holocaust. Bombs make terrorists. Where are all the Vietnamese terrorists? You know, the left has bumper stickers that are so easily disproved that they should stop throwing them around as if theyre analysis. Theyre just cheap sentiment. And Im always annoyed by cheap sentiment. And thats whats so annoying about this (pointing to Weekly peace symbol cover.) People read back into the war in Afghanistan their opposition to the war in Iraq. There was no opposition to the war in Afghanistan. There were three ladies in black standing in Westlake Center on October 7th when we went to war in 2001 in Afghanistan. Because that was completely justified. The Iraq war was a war of choice, which is why theres this huge debate about it



You look at the glory days of daily papers, when big cities like New York had several dozen, they all had an opinion they were trying to advance and that was what was entertaining and thrilling about reading them. And now that theyre all serious and objective theyre boring. Thats why FOX news does so well and CNN does not. Thats why The Wall Street Journal sells more issues than The New York Times. And why weeklies are doing better than dailies. Cities that cant support two dailies can support two or three weeklies. The other albatross dailies hung around their necks is family newspaper. There can be nothing in the paper that a five year-old could read. Newspapers are for adults. When Dick Cheney says the word, fuck, it should be in the newspaper. God bless The Washington Post for putting it in the newspaper. Remember when Bush called Adam Klimer of The New York Times an asshole? And every daily newspaper in the country twisted themselves into knots to figure out how to elbow adult readers in the ribs about what the word was without actually printing it. How infantile. I dont want to be treated like that. And if a nine-year-old is reading The New York Times, hes probably mature enough to read the word asshole without screaming it at the first nun he sees on the street.


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s we drove across unimaginable flatlands and sporadic inclines then declines on rosy asphalt roads the wind blew with a force that pushed the RV across two lanes of interstate. We drove through towns named Gillette, Moorcraft, and Buffalo, the last of which is named for the rocks and boulders that litter the surrounding landscape, which from a distance appear to be herds of wild buffalo. But we all know those died off long ago. We passed road signs, ominous warnings that indicated this land is not to be traversed during the winter months:



Open sky, open land. Land forever, flat only from a farsighted perspective. This land is hilly and rolling, shadowed in large parts by clouds. Luxurious fucking clouds. Driving under those clouds towards Devils Tower we knew it would reveal itself when we crested one of those hills. Each peak heightened our anticipation. Each hill brought with it the hope of finally catching sight of that enormous rock formation only explicable through theory. Maybe it would be this hill. No. The next hill? No. And not the one after that either. Then suddenly, Mateo Tipila. There, on the horizon. Majestic Mateo Tipila, known to the white man as Devils Tower. For those of you who have seen the film Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Devils Tower is where the aliens land, that mountain Richard Dreyfuss carves out of his mashed potatoes. And for those of you who havent seen the film, Devils Tower is a forty million year old steepsided monolithic igneous rock 1,267 feet in height located near the Belle Fourche River in the great American state of Wyoming. TH E KIOWA LEG E N D OF TH E S EVE N STAR G I R LS As told to Dick Stone by I-See-Many-Camp-Fire-Places, a Kiowa Soldier at Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory, in the year 1897: Before the Kiowa came south they were camped on a stream in the far north where there were a great many bears, many of them. One day seven little girls were playing at a distance from the village and were chased by some bears. The girls ran toward the village and the bears were just about to catch them when the girls jumped on a low rock, about three feet high. Rock take pity on us, rock save us. The rock heard them and began to grow upwards, pushing the girls higher and higher. When the bears jumped to reach the girls they scratched the rock, broke their claws and fell on the ground. The rock rose higher and higher, the bears still jumped at the girls until they were pushed up into the sky, where they now are, seven little stars in a group (The Pleiades). In the winter, in the middle of the night, the seven stars are right over this high rock. When the people came to look they found the bears claws, turned to stone, all around the base


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Devils Tower is a National Monument, in fact, the very first National Monument as decreed by President Theodore Roosevelt in the year 1906. And the surrounding 1,247 acres is a National Park with pine forests, campgrounds and hiking trails, BBQ pits and picnic tables, grasslands and abundant wildlife. The road that takes you through the park bisects a field of prairie dog colonies. The countryside looks like a minefield mostly diffused. And these little creatures, something between a chipmunk and a gerbil, stand outside their burrows, frozen geysers of earth, barking and chirping and whistling sweet whispers. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them as far as the eye can see. For just a moment, imagine the sound: thousands of cavern-dwelling rodents yelping like land-dolphins, like castrated poodles, like tiny carnivorous dinosaurs.

At the time, my uncle Lee was also on a roadtrip across the country in his van, with his wife, and their four children, Christine (14), Jimmy (10), Bridget (8), and Shannon (5). And they were in Devils Tower Park that night so we camped next to each other. As soon as Lee parked the van, his children slid open the door, jumped out, expeditiously dismounted their bikes from the rack, and took off riding down the dirt road of the campgrounds. Yeah, Lee says, watching the kids pedal themselves in circles. I dont know what I wouldve done if we didnt bring those bikes. Lees van is a light gray shade of filth with childishly scrawled words of cleanliness. The van was covered in Uncle Lee this pseudo-chalkboard graffiti: North Dakota, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, every state between New York and Wyoming. I saw Lee earlier that spring when my parents and I went to Buffalo,


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New York to see family and sort of bookend my whole college experience. I stayed in Buffalo for a week before college and then stayed in Buffalo the week after graduation. Both times I visited my fathers family in Buffalo, my grandmother, aunts, cousins, all of them proclaimed how much I looked like my uncle Lee. You should see the way he stands sometimes, my mother exclaimed at my grandmothers dining room table. Hes the spitting image of Lee! So now only a few months later, Lee and I are standing in the shadow of Mateo Tiplia enjoying a cold bottle of Devils Tower Lager, brewed and bottled in Missoula, Montana. We had been chatting about our respective roadtrips for a few moments. Now we were pretty quiet, standing there, looking at the Tower, enjoying our beers. You gonna climb it? Lee asks me.

Standing at the base of the Tower, far from the summit, but already four hundred feet above the prairie dogs, higher even from the campsite, the view was spectacular. 230 degrees of sky, a mountain range probably hundreds of miles in the distance, the path of the Belle Fourche river, an older now overgrown path of the Belle Fourches historic glacier route, hang-gliding hawks, and even an encroaching lightening storm and a fully arching, half circle, brightly colored rainbow. We inhaled cool, scented air. This is not the sliver of sky you see between buildings in Brooklyn, I thought. In Brooklyn, the sunset is only a slowly evaporating icing on the tops of brownstones. This is Wyoming, what looks like the only true final frontier.

We moved onward, upward. Smoking a cigarette, I stumbled up the trails like a clumsy white man. We passed numerous rock formations of which I couldnt say whether they were igneous, metamorphic, or otherwise, in fact Im surprised I even know that much geological terminology.* We climbed soft yellow rock, sharp splintering rock, sturdy platform rock, big giant red rocks, and some gravel. We saw deer not forty feet away. We saw bunnies. We saw baby bunnies hop along our path. And we continued our ascent. At the base of the Tower there is a sign with an outlined, sectioned-



out photograph of the Tower detailing the climbing routes and each ones level of difficulty. We could see three pairs of climbers on the Tower. They hung there, roped in between the cracks like ladybugs on tomato vines. Six colorful pimples on the side this massive flat-topped stone. Climbers, they were. I thought them crazy. The closer you come to its base, the Tower takes on different personas. I couldnt imagine who this Tower would be if you reached its peak. And I still cant imagine it. Before we get any closer to the Tower, you should know that we didnt really climb it. This tale ends at its vertical base, not the peak. Climbing Devils Tower is not for amateurs. But you knew that.

The lightning storm we spied at the beginning of our hike reached the Tower and winds blew loudly and the sky turned ashen and a slow sprinkling of rain fell upon the land, a land previously inhabited by Native Americans.

According to the National Park Service, almost thirty tribes have cultural, geographical, or historical affiliations with the Tower, including, but not limited to: Assiniboine, Blackfeet, Blood, Crow, Cheyenne River Lakota, Crow Creek Dakota, Devils Lake Lakota, Eastern Shoshone, Flandreau Santee Dakota, Kootnai and Salish, Lower Brule Lakota,


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Northern Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, Oglala Lakota, Pigeon, Rosebud Lakota, Sissteon-Wahpeton Dakota, Southern Arapaho, Southern Cheyenne, Standing Rock Lakota, Turtle Moutnain Chippewa, Yankton Dakota, Kiowa, and Shosone. Before we slaughtered them, relocated them, infected them, scalped them, raped them, hunted them Before all that, they hung out at the base of Mateo Tipila, on the banks of the meandering Belle Fourche River. Before the genocide. If you look closely at the hillside you can just make out a teardrop or, in some places, a bloodstain. God bless them for their fight. Out here in Wyoming, I am embarrassed for my ancestors, the pale-face men from where the sun rises. The rain intensified and lightning bolts sparked stretching across the sky, and the climbers turned around, rappeling, descending very quickly. They would not stand atop Mateo Tipila. Not today they wouldnt. We also made a run for it. The rain and lightening chased us down the hill, along the path towards some sort of shelter. In our dash, we passed a small tree decorated with pieces of cloth and prayer bundles. We quickened our pace. And the rain darkened the soil.




ouglas, just where 59 meets 25, one of The 100 Best Small Towns, is home to the jackalope. The jackalope, if youre not familiar, is a combination of antelope and jackrabbit. This creature is entirely fictional. And everything in Douglas closes at 3 pm. At The Koop there on the main drag, the bathroom is in the kitchen.
What is it about this desolate place that seems so appealing? Elkhorn Creek dried up a long time ago. I think Id be a good trucker. Creedance taking us south of out WYO. Goodbye WYO. I have no complaints, no regrets. Youve done us well. Now we return to civilization, where a man doesnt have to fear the elements of nature and otherwise unknown dangers. We survived.


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All I ask is that we remember what this land feels like, what this rain smells like, what this horizon looks like. This place makes me feel vulnerable, exposed. This is sacred earth, theres no doubt about that. And Fish Creek has no fish. No water either. Wheatland 11

Cottonwood Creek, near Laramie, Wyoming. Some places in America feel like harbingers of evil. Not necessarily evil places, but places where evil lurks and hides like in dark basement corners where the brown recluses live and breed. Laramie is one such dark corner.

Chugwater Cheyenne AmericI N N

17 62

Only now do I believe in Wyoming: beautiful, barren, and undoubtedly unnatural.




was nineteen years old the last time I was in Boulder, Colorado. I came for a few weeks of summer courses at Naropa, a Buddhist writing school founded long ago by Alan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac now run by Anne Waldman and her contemporaries. The small campus is built like a hippie commune: cottages and gardens with stone pathways leading between the two. The classes were mediocre at best if only because it was the summer and the students enrolled were not writers, not serious writers at least, more like hobbyists who thought a week of class would be fun. I learned more just tromping around Boulder, using my fake ID to drink in bars, and hitchhiking to hippie concerts at Red Rocks.


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One such concert, a Phil And Friends show, I hitched to with a guy named Chris whom I met at a concert in Boulder the night before when we were both wasted and he invited me to ride with him and his friends, but the next morning when I called to schedule the ride, Chris didnt remember me at all. Okay, I said. Well, nevermind then, I guess. Chris sighed heavily into the phone. If I said Id give you a ride, he said. Ill give you a ride. You dont have to, I said. Meet us at the 7-11 on Arapahoe at three oclock, okay?

Outside the 7-11 this unkempt man with stringy hair approached me. He wore a once-white button up shirt with no cufflinks. He didnt say anything. He just stood staring. Hi, I said. Are you Jewish? he asked me, wrinkling his brow. No, I said. Muslim? he asked. No, I said. Youre not Christian are you? he asked. No, I said. The dirty man laughed rubbing the top of his head. Ahhhh, he exclaimed. But you have the beard of a believer! He laughed heartily, repeating himself, saying believer this and believer that and was still going at it when Chris and his friends pulled up in his Grand Cherokee. Okay, friend, I told The Believer. This is my ride, Ill see you later. And I climbed into the backseat of Chriss car. Is that a friend of yours? Chris asked me. No, I said. You dont know that guy? Chriss girlfriend asked me. No, I said. Are you sure?

Out here I feel like everyone is studying for the same test. If I lived in this town Id drive a soft-top Jeep Wrangler and wear thick socks under my hiking boots. Id open a tattoo shop and never charge



anyone. Id meet a girl down by the creek, kiss her on the cheek, and convince myself I was in love because sex aint that far off. Aint life grand? Aint life grand in the mountains? But I fear this mountain air. These people are too white. Women with tank tops and strapless camisoles, their men wearing collared shirts with tiny animals embroidered over their hearts and baseball caps hiding their eyebrows or worn backwards in homage to the CU frat boys these men wish would rape their girlfriends. And their girlfriends wish this too. A fat woman in Boulder is like a rose in the desert. In Boulder, ride your bike to work day is everyday. Drink up, mountain folk. Tonight is the last night on earth.

This is Jeffs hometown and that night he drove Sam and me, his girlfriend, Sabrina, and their dog, Emmett, through Colorado towards a mountain that would show us a spectacular view of Boulder. We drove, windows down and the night air whipped through the car and no one spoke as we rolled along, down, then up hill and mountain through dark fields with only four feet of road illuminated in front of us. These roads, the roads of the west are straight and unwavering: first north, then west, then north again and nothing in between with nothing to curve around. These roads were here first, carved out of the mountain as those brave westbounders moved families and hopes towards greener pastures and open spaces. Only a few distant lights, factories or warehouses, sparked the horizon as we drove into the mountains. The more you drive, the more distance you cover in a day, a week, the more the lines of statehood fade into regional dialects, climate, scenery. Names lose their importance. All that changes is grassland to prairie to mountain to canyon and valley. Its interesting, this condition, this paradox. Having a different town to sleep in each night Ive become closedoff to humans and relationships while simultaneously opening-up to strangers and barflies. When everyone is a stranger, loneliness is as liberating as it is isolating.

I have come to a better understanding of domestic life in the past few days. Sam and I stayed at Jeffs parents house while Jeff stayed with Sabrina at their new home. Mike and Chuck hiked in the mountains, and Jeffs sister


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took her pothead boyfriend to the hotsprings for a picnic. Sam caught up on her television while I surfed the net, masturbated, hot-tubbed, did my yoga routine, and showered. Then I wandered through the house. Jeffs parents house is cluttered with paintings, golf ball displays, tiger-striped bathroom towels, crystal vases, each room has its own theme and in the basement is a pool table, a foosball table, and every single Star Wars action figure dating back to the seventies. Jeffs room has a giant bookshelf on which he displays his entire Lego pirate series collection. It didnt take me long to find his porno stash, hidden under the far side of his bed. Later, when Jeffs little sister and her boyfriend returned from their picnic, Sam and I watched Rocky IV. And during the beginning of the filmwhen Apollo Creed is getting beaten to death by that monster of a RussianSam and I listened to Jeffs sister get fucked and pounded upstairs. She made noises, guttural and throaty, like the death rattle of a grizzly bear. Sam and I sat listening, giggling, looking at each other with lustful intent. Sam is really quite beautiful: blonde hair, fair skin, thin lipped, voluptuous, and she carries herself well. The last time Sam and I fucked was about a month or so ago and before the roadtrip we agreed we wouldnt fuck, we wouldnt fight, and we would make a concerted effort not to appear as exs on television. Were friends, had been friends for a year before we dated, then dated in college for about three years on and off, mostly off towards the latter end of our time but we still fucked occasionally. And throughout the years we each had other lovers, but more often than not we found ourselves in bed together. Sam is a wealth of knowledge, often trivial knowledge but knowledge nonetheless. And shes funny, that kind of cynical, sarcastic humor that I grew to appreciate in college. And shes a good dancer. But above all that she has style, a unique stance. And shes good in bed. I loved her and she loved me but that was a long time ago. Although, some connections are unwavering. Weve always been friends. Whatever that means. Listening to Jeffs little sister sing the anthem of callous, hard sex, Sam and I talked about how long it had been since we each at sex with



anyone. I know, I said. Im really horny. Me too, she said. But we really shouldnt. Okay, I said, not really meaning it. Besides, Sam continued. Youre gonna see Kai in a few days anyway. So? Sam smirked at me as if to say, you just wanna get laid, and I had no retort. We sat quietly while the fucking continued upstairs and the angry Russian delivered a deathblow to Apollo Creed.

For one of our Colorado nights we parked the RV on a side road in Boulder near a bar. It was karaoke night. At the bar I played foosball with Russians while Sam and Sabrina and Jeff waited for their turns at the karaoke machine. That nights singers were horrible and I was happy to be playing foosball, losing, but playing and still having fun. During high school I had a foozball table and when I left for college it was one of the first items my parents sold. Then they sold my car. I was drunk that night in Boulder after three margaritas at a Mexican restaurant supposedly famous for its margaritas. The rule was that they could only serve an individual three margaritas in any single night. They were strong, but they werent that strong. I could have had another. I think that was where I lost my notebook. But it could have fallen from my pocket during karaoke, drunk as fuck. I sang Youve Lost That Lovin Feeling. Sam sang CCRs Proud Mary. She was drunk too. On stage, waiting for her song to begin, looking cute and young, Sam held the microphone loosely, a glass of Southern Comfort in the same hand. The karaoke MC flirted with her a bit, commenting on her ability to multitask. Where are you from? the MC asked Sam. Brooklyn, she said into the microphone. Do they have karaoke in Brooklyn? he asked. Yup. And how is that? Better than it is in fucking Boulder, Sam said.


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ts quite obvious now that we spent one day too long in Boulder. We lost all of the momentum we gathered from the West. This morning we just couldnt get on the road. Between waiting for Chuck to eat breakfast at some undisclosed location, Jeff drying his clothes, Sabrina feeding me eggs it was well past eleven before we hit Denver and almost three before we crossed into Kansas.
The sign read: John Kerry Thinks Twice Before Saying Nothing Rolling through Kansas now, wagons east. Kansas seems like a parody of itself, as if modeled after all the clichs



and jokes aimed at it. Such a fucking wasteland, this place even smells like shit. This is the region of the country where they lynch boys with dreadlocks. Kansas stands like a lightheaded man with yellow complexion, a Midwestern jaundice. Distant wildfires burned on the horizon like many miniature sunsets and I wondered if this was normal for Kansas. Be wary of landlocked states. Non-coastal, interior communities propagate widespread bigotry if not cultural and/or ethical incest. Of course, Im generalizing. The sign read: Got a Swimsuit Problem?


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have no love for the Midwest. But Missouri is a little different. Kansas City, Kansas is only a desolate shadow of Kansas City, Missouri. Never confuse the two. KCMO is not only the BBQ capital of the world, the birthplace of jazz, and an oasis of contemporary art, but also home to more water fountains than any other city in America. Most of Kansas Citys hundred-odd-something famous fountains are located in the Country Club Plaza, including J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, located at 47th and J.C. Nichols Parkway. This fountain features



four equestrian figures, each representing a different river of the world. From the center of the fountain, jets of water spray thirty feet into the air.

I used to date Sam and at one time had something to do with Kai, if only for that week in New York. Kai and Adam used to date but now shes seeing Richard and well, I think Adam has a crush on Sam or maybe she has a crush on him. And were all in this dart bar while Jeff is outside on the phone with his girlfriend in Colorado. Meanwhile, theres an exoticlooking older woman by her lonesome at the end of the bar stirring her drink with a straw. In the end, this is what Ill remember. This is what you take with you when you go. Sitting between my ex-girlfriend and an old war-time lover, beset by nostalgia and lost love and certainly lust, I just sort of tuned out the conversation and watched the scenario from afar. Who are these people? What happens when friend becomes lover and then friend and then a source of comfort and guilty sex and then friend again? Moreover, what happens to that lover from a short-lived spring break tryst when you meet again in her town, on her turf? Nothing much. Nothing much changes, because what I mean to say is that the girls may act differently but they look the same. Chemistry, that connection formed during either a long-term relationship or a shortlived affair, doesnt really change. And I have no idea why we call each other friends. It seems like thats a term used to fall back on when the love runs dry. Kansas City is like that too: not quite a friend, something more like a friendly once-was, some mutually satisfying one-night stand back from the dead and looking just like you remember. I dont mind it here. In fact, I may one day end up on the Missouri River for a moment, nothing extended, nothing long, maybe for a job or a woman or just to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. Thats certainly one thing this city has to offer. As I traverse the country I think about moving out of New York, but I havent found one spot, not one single place I could happily call home. Its hard to fall in love when youre in a different city every night.


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And you might want to know, Why the New York Black Yankees, why the Birmingham Black Bears, why the Atlanta Black Crackers? During that era, the white team was named the New York Yankees, so when the black team started, they called themselves the New York Black Yankees. And the same way with the Atlanta Black Crackers; they had the Atlanta Crackers and they had the Atlanta Black Crackers. -Don Motley


hroughout the late 1800s, African-Americans played baseball on military teams, college teams, and company teams. Eventually, African-American athletes made their way to playing on professional teams but racist Jim Crow laws forced them from those teams by 1900. Twenty years later, under the guidance of Andrew Rube Foster and a few other Midwestern baseball team owners, the Negro National League was founded. And soon rival Negro Leagues formed in eastern and southern states, forming a nation-wide pastime no longer exclusively



for white Americans. And in 1945, the Brooklyn Dodgers recruited Jackie Robinson from the Kansas City Monarchs, making him the first African-American in the modern era to play on a white, Major League roster. Almost immediately, this historic event killed the Negro Leagues because, soon after Robinson, other professional African-American athletes followed into the Majors. And the fans followed with them. In Kansas City, Missouri, The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is an archive of those twenty-five years in the early 20th century when black baseball was better than white baseball.

DON MOTLEY: Youll tell me what were supposed to be doing now? AP SMITH: Were driving across country, doing a documentary for PBS, during which weve been stopping off in places and talking to people about the path that they followed in life. So we just wanted to talk about what brought you to where you are today, the kind of path that you followed, as were out there trying to find our own path. DON: Hmmm Thats a big question, man. AP: Well, we got some time. Jeff and I just graduated in May, Sam has one more semester. DON: Yeah? What school? AP: Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. DON: Brooklyn good. AP: I studied writing and Sam and Jeff studied photography, and were not exactly sure where were headed now, in terms of- what were going to do with this. We just wanted to talk to you and have you tell us about what you were thinking and what was happening on with you when you were 21, 22 years old. DON: You want me to go back that far, its impossible. Well that is impossible. Well, I thought you wanted to interview about the museum


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mostly. AP: Well, that as well Im sure thats a large part of your story. Just where you were when you were our age and the path you followed that brought you here. DON: Okay and I guess I tell you who I am, Im Don Motley, Im the executive director of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, located in Kansas City, Missouri. This is the only city of its kind, to research and disseminate the story of African-American baseball. And what led me to my path, I guess, at the early age, was that I was brought up under a very segregated system. And there wasnt too many African Americans was in jobs, and I retired as an equal opportunity investigator for the U.S. Postal Service, and I was a personal office clerk also, and I was the first one who was promoted into those kind of position. So, I started in baseball at an early age, I used to play, and also I scouted for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Orioles. And Im the first African American was hired to manage, local here in Kansas City, a college-level team. And thats the team started the League in 1927, and before that I usually have two or three coaches that work with these college kids. And this League was a very outstanding league and I was the first African American, like I said. We had people who came out of there, Walter Cooperyou could see how far that go backDave Comb, Dave Sutcliffe, they all came out of this league, its a very, very powerful league. And before that I was a manager of the old Leagueum, mix American Legion baseball team here in Kansas City, and that happened, and it ended in the 1950s, and these young kids, they had a you know, they could move up and get these baseball scholarships and things like that. And then, when I retired, in 1990 we started this Negro League Baseball Museum, and since I had retired and had some of the background, and I was appointed to Executive Director, and so now I take time to run the League. AP: So, when you were growing up- you grew up in Kansas City? DON: No, I grew up in the state of Alabama, and Ohio, and later, I guess by seventeen or eighteen, I came to Kansas City to finish high school here, yes. AP: And from there you went to work for the Postal Service?



DON: No, years later I went and I played a lot of, kind of summer pro baseball, and summer pro football, and things like that. During that era, wasnt too many African American was playing, playing the good sports, so therefore it was very limited, yeah. AP: And how was that, how did you get involved with that? You just went out there and applied for the team, or they found you DON: No, no during that era all teams hadall cities had baseball because, one, that was the only pastime, you know. Baseball wasplayed in every city, practically. Now, you dont see these cities playing baseball anymore. AP: Why is that, do you think? DON: Well, uh, Major League baseball, for one thingkids is turning more to other sports, because baseball is very, very expensive sport. They speaking of African American kids not playing baseball, I guess you heard of that quite a bit. Andthey said basketball, football, hockey, and all of those kinds of sports. But its not that, in my opinion, because I manage college level sports. Andyes, what it boils down to is that these kids cannot afford it. Um, last year I had twoI had twenty-five ball players and all I had was two African American ball playersand some schools came down to give them a baseball scholarships, and they didnt show up, and when they didnt show up I inquired about it and found out it was the league fee. It was the league fee they couldnt afford. And then it dawned on me what it took for kids now to play baseball. This league fee was only a hundred dollars, but most league fee run two or three hundred dollars. Your bat cost over $150. Your glove costs $100. Your shoes cost almost $100. Now, that mean that kids, from even the middle class, or either the fixed income, they cant afford to play this game. And you cant blame the league because they have to operate. And, many time, I have said many time, if youre going to get these African American kids back into baseball, then youre going to have to go into the grade school. Grade school to start these kids out playing baseball againnot the junior high, not the senior. And, go in there, and these kids, like they do all in the suburb area, like in your neighborhood, maybe these kids playing


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baseball in grade school. You get in the inner city and these kids are not playing baseball because of what it costs. And, so, you cant blame the school system because they need money to operate with, but I think that some foundation or somebody could step up to the plate and start that again. JEFF: And so how was it for you to play? DON: All we needed was a glove to go out there and play baseball, you didnt have to pay no league fee, all you needed was to play baseball. And so now, you need to have the money to play. SAM: And so when you were playing when you were in high school and then right after, did you ever imagine that youd be here today, working as the Executive Director of a museum devoted to this sport that played such an important part in your life? DON: No idea, no idea. I thought when I retired I was going to take it easy, and have a good life, but this is a rewarding life, to know thatI was fortunate enough to have my background in baseball, and I was fortunate enough to be appointed to run the museum, and I had no idea, like I said, I thought I was gonna retire and have a good life out there, but this have been fun and its been very kind of rewarding, to see that young people didnt know nothing about the Negro Leagues baseball. And baseball really changed America. And so, I remember what really got me one day that, uh, we had a one of the schools came in and they wanted to knowa bunch of seniors came in, from a high school And the first question I asked them was who was the first African American player that played in the majors in the 20th century? And for this baseball, signed by Buck ONeil, who can answer



for me? And there was about sixty of em. I went around, Who? All of them said Babe Ruth. They just didnt know the history. But now you ask these kids, they know the history. And so its been very, very rewarding to see this, I mean this untold American history, being told. JEFF: And what did you think about when they asked you to come here and be the Executive Director ? DON: No, no, well, we were one, and I was one of the founders of it. We all started it. We were in a room about this size We had to go around the table, who gonna pay rent this month? And we all had to pitch in and pay the rent for that month. And so we knew this, starting this museum, we got a lot of questions, why was this museum named museum instead of The Negro Leagues Hall of Fame? But we strongly believe that the players, the players that should be in the Hall of Fame, they should be in Cooperstown, not here. So thats been our main mission. To make sure that happened. Yes.

JEFF: What were some of the most rewarding parts of the job, on a day to day level, what were some of the those rewarding stories? DON: Mostly its just to spread this story, to see people who come here from all over the world, to really see this story being told like it should be. You see some of the most greatest baseball players that ever lived. And the only reason they couldnt play this game because of the color of their skin. And when you go through the museum then you can really see that story. Like for instance that the Negro Leagues had lights five years before Major League baseball. And you will see that when Jackie Robinsonhe wasnt the best ball player, but he was the right ball playerto go to the major league because he carried on his back the whole race. He could not relax like most players, and these are the things that you will see. Jackie Robinson took into play with the Major League baseball the style of the Negro Leagues, now, what I mean for style, for instance before Jackie they played station to station. Station to station mean they hit a single, wait till somebody drive it to second, third, and home. When Jackie would hit, he hit a single, you look up, he stole second, hey you look up, hes stealing home. It was an entirely different style of baseball that they was not used to.


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AP: And do you think that- how did that change the major leagues, when integration started to happen? DON: Well, when it started happening and that quite naturally the African American teams began to fold up and by 1960 there wasnt none. Because people began to go to the Major League baseball parks to see the black ball players play. Because black baseball was the third largest business in America, and the Negro League started here in Kansas City right around the Paseo YMCA in 1920, so we in the process now of trying to buy that building and turn it into the John Buck ONeil Research and Education Center. So we in the process of raising about twelve, fifteen million dollars to do that. JEFF: What kind of things would the research center be used for? DON: Well, uh there is no more Negro Leagues Baseball, but there is so much history there that people want to learn about. We have people who fly in from all over the world to, just to do a thesis on the Negro Leagues. And, like the Hall of Fame, theres so much history there, because, during that erawhat you have to look atyou have white league, and you have the black league. So it did not become Major League baseball no matter how you look at it until everyone was allowed to play. And thats when you begin to see baseball. Just to think if you couldnt see Barry Bonds play, or Willie Mays play. Now how can you judge, saying that these other guys was better than them, when you never even seen em play, and they wasnt allowed? So, now you grew up in an era where, I mean, they all played. So its natural for you. But when you go downstairs and walk through the museum, most people cannot believe this country was like that. See, like, say Buck ONeil. Buck ONeil told a story where when Jackie Robinson went into the majors, you know Jackie had to eat in his room He couldnt eat with the rest of the players. And so finally anybody know Jackie when he make up his mindhe said, Ive had it. And Im going to go down into the restaurant and Im going to eat me a meal. So, they say that Brass Ricky said that Jackies gonna have a mob down here, and you better get down there. Brass Ricky say, you know, Jackie, when he make up his mind, let him go. So when they came in there, they were expecting that people would be picketing or something like that. They had a long line that everybody would have him sign his



autograph. See thats people, you know. JEFF: So it seems like the community is a big part of the museum just in terms of the community being where the teams first started, and now doing all this stuff to give back to the community DON: Yes, yes, its not just the community here, its all over the country. Weve had teams, the New York Black Yankees, the Birmingham Black Bears, the Detroit Stars, they had a lot of ball teams throughout the country. And you might want to know, why the New York Black Yankees, why the Birmingham Black Bears, why the Atlanta Black Crackers? During that era, the white team was named the New York Yankees, so when the black team started, they called themselves the New York Black Yankees. And the same way with the Atlanta Black Crackers; they had the Atlanta Crackers and they had the Atlanta Black Crackers. And so we have been asked many time, and I got an email the other day, why are you using the Negro name? Thats a black mark, Negro League. But thats what the League was called then: The Negro League. We cant say the African American league because there wasnt an African American leagues; it was the Negro Leagues. So were right proud of this history here because it really changed America. AP: Now, when you were coaching college level, and you were the first African American How was that, what was that like, how did that fall into place? DON: Well, first I started in the American Legion, I got a call from father Father Avan Dean. He called me upand I was in my early twentieshe wanted me to manage an American Legion team and he wanted me to come down to his parish. So, I said, me? and he said yes. So I went down therebecause Im a Baptist, you know, so why are priests calling me up to manage a ball team so I ran all the way down there and I ask him, hey, you got coaches around town, why me? And he said, no, we want you, we studied your background, you played baseball, you was an athlete, you know how to work with young people. We want a young person in there to work with these kids. And we want you to go out to the American Legion and tell them to put a ball team in its league. So I went down there, and they just looked over me. And then finally, finally they was getting ready to adjourn. So I stood up and I said, I want to put


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a team in this league, and he said do you have $2500 to put a team in this league? Hell, I didnt have $25, or $5, you know? And I kinda stutter, and this white-haired, white man stood up and said maybe he doesnt have it, but I do, and the guy said we dont want you niggers down there, we dont want our ball players down there playin against you niggers. And another guy jumped over there and said, Ill take my ball team to play And so, thats how we started. And for three years I couldnt play unless there was a priest sitting on my bench. And youd be surprised, you know? (laughing) And so thats how it got started. And then, later on, there was a guy, a very civic-minded person here, he owned thirty-two stores, like Safeway, they called him, and he called me up and he said, I want you to coach my ball team, and later on I was a manager, so I never had any problem in managing the league, and playing ball, because Ive experienced some kind of attitude, but quite naturally they cant stop the kids from hitting the ball so theres no problem, you know? AP: Yeah. DON: Okay, so you can get the rest now. AP: What? DON: Ill send in someone else. AP: Okay, well thank you so much. DON: (standing) You know, I dont do interviews. AP: No? DON: (leaving the room) I dont do interviews.




his vehicle, this relic, is named Safari. But Roadtrip Nation renamed it Norm, in honor of Mike Marriners recently deceased uncle. A photograph of Uncle Norm hangs near the steering wheel of our Safari. By the end of the trip, the RV was decorated throughout, the signatures of each interviewee covering the ceiling. Anti-Bush stickers littered the kitchen, a stolen photo of the New Hampshire Governor hung above the couch, polaroids Sam took of the RV, press passes and name tags some with our names misspelled, Bigfoot bumper stickers, toll booth tickets, maps, and post-it note quotes. And also, at the very end of the trip, in Brunos parking lot, we each wrote our thoughts and thanks above the stove. The RV was home from the very beginning. But a special bond is formed between you and your roaming abode after four weeks. I guess


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the simplest analogy would be something like having sea legs. You read at 70 mph, you sleep at 70 mph, you eat at 70 mph, and when you stop moving, the earths rotation seems a little off, like maybe you have an inner ear infection. And its like an addiction to junk. You miss it. You need it. You cant sleep without it. That motion. The hum of the engine. The curves in the road, the bumps and slumps, the texture of rolling asphalt.

Einsteins theory of relativity states that, quite basically, time is not based on one absolute measurement. Time is relative. Einstein states that time is based entirely on ones speed in relation to the speed of those around you. The faster one moves, the slower time moves. Now he was talking about a person moving hundreds of times the speed of light but I think it holds true on even the smallest scale. Surely, someone traveling hundreds of miles a day for weeks on end is moving faster than someone who stays in one place, right? I think so. And then theres that cosmonaut who spent so much time on the space station that when he returned to earth, according to the theory of relativity, he was 0.022 seconds younger than everyone else. I may never know that humbling feeling one certainly has when looking at earth from outer space. But I can say this: there were moments on this roadtrip when time felt slowed, malleable, like we were running on a different schedule than anyone we visited. And it makes sense to me only now. Of course we were. Those other people, when they wake up in the morning, will be exactly where they were when they went to sleep. But not us.

One night I woke suddenly in the RV during a thunderstorm the magnitude of which I have only experienced a few times in my life. The sound was deafening. There was a panic aboard the RV and my mild consciousness made it feel like somewhere on this small ship a captain should be barking orders to the crew in order to keep our vessel afloat. We were taking on water. And the cameramen, frantic, wearing only their boxers, struggled to record the terror and awe instilled upon us by the awesome, indiscriminate power of nature.




ildflowers, cemeteries, motels, gift shops, truck stops, RV parks, campsites, restaurants, diners, fishing spots, petting zoos, photo ops, turn-abouts, vending machines, telephone poles, old tired telephone poles outdated and outflanked by taller stronger straighter newer telephone poles, watering holes, drive-ups, drive-thrus, dead skunk, falling rock, creek, lake, like a snake, gas station attendants, gas station bathroom keys, sunflower seeds
Hed play rough Until his lady saved his life Guns Save Life .Com


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Youll get one smile. Funks Grove Next Right Over pass, under pass, do not pass, must pass, pass pass, pass. CH ECK YOU R B LI N D S P OT OFTE N Vermillion River

Apartments available. Billboard space available. Dairy Queen now hiring. Gas-Exit 201. Except Authorized Vehicles Except Commercial Vehicles. Except Permitted Parking Vehicles.

Why do people live out here? Why doesnt everyone move to New York? If we lived in the same city we could have a lot of fun together. Pussy meat chicken fried steak.



I was in the service until I was twenty-one, got out the day before I turned twenty-one. And I was a carpenter in St. Louis then for a little while. I got married back here. Moved out to California for a year. Moved back here again, but I was still in construction. Did a little contracting on my own but I was a carpenter basically. Well, its been twenty-nine years right now since we started Bigfoot. And I started the shop as just a small four-wheel drive shop. -Bob Chandler


ust outside St. Louis, we interviewed Bob Chandler, the creator of Bigfoot, the pioneer of monster trucks. When he was younger, he and his wife took a trailer with his four-wheel drive truck to Alaska, 5,400 miles, from Missouri. Bob Chandler knows miles. And he knows gears. And he knows what it means to be first.


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BOB CHANDLER: The four-wheel drive shop was good, we made good money. I always put product on my truck because I wanted it to be better than everyone elses, to show it off. Thats the idea. You sell your product by using it. And Id race every weekend at anything I could go to with the trucks, mud runs, hill climbs, truck pulls, whatever was around. And Id come back on Monday and usually the truck was broke. And my general manager called me Big Foot. And I had bigger tires than normal then too and I liked the name so I put it on the side of the truck. From there it just kind of grew. As Id break things Id put heavier components on. I went to bigger axles on the truck and then you dont have enough power so your put a bigger engine in the truck and then youre going along very well and you need bigger tires to go more places with it. It was a vicious cycle. Bigger tires, bigger axles, bigger engine, bigger tires, bigger axles, bigger engine about three or four times, it took five years in that process before it became what it is today. And I never sat down and thought Im going to build a monster truck, or build a Bigfoot. It just happened. It was time for it to happen. And I think thats the way things are. If I wouldnt have done it someone else would have. It was time for it. I dont think Im a genius at all. JEFF: So how did you get to that big one out there? (Referring to BIGFOOT 5, which has ten foot tall tires.) BOB: When Bigfoot became really popular, I did that first movie, Take This Job And Shove It, that really popularized the truck and I started doing shows with the truck. The show in Seattle, Washington, Id do once a year and I went up and I saw these tires on a trailer in a junk yard in Seattle, the tires on the big truck out front. I went and asked the guy how much he wanted for them, you know, just jokingly, he says Thirty thousand dollars, I say Thank you, bye, and Id go back there every year and ask him how much he wanted for the tires and they still sat there, thirty thousand dollars. And by this time I had several trucks and Jim Kramer was my driver and he was in Seattle and he says, why dont I go in there and offer the guy a thousand dollars and he took it. At the same time he says, Well I got four more Ill sell you for eight hundred a piece. So I bought two sets of them and flew them out here. But then we didnt know what to do with them because theyre so huge. But we adapted our trucks to fit those tires. Theyve been on Bigfoot 1, 2, 4,



several of the early trucks, and then we built number 5 just for it, so its been designed for those tires. Its top speed is probably thirty miles an hour, and its got a transfer case with lower and lower, is what we call it. And the truck has been to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, its been all over this country. Our crew guys just hate it because its such a job to take it down and change the tires, then haul it across the country then changeits a five hour job to put the tires on. They keep telling me theyre going to lose the tires on the way back one of these times. AP: What about the tank? BOB: The tank? Fastrax. I bought Fastrax from a guy in Texas and it had a Chevrolet body on it and a Chevrolet engine and he had built itit was really neat when he showed me pictures and video of it. And when I bought it I ended up changing it, put a Ford body on it because Im all Ford, put a Ford engine in it, and we ran it for probably for five or six years before the popularity kinda petered out on it. The biggest problem with it, theyre 24,000 pounds, its a heavy, heavy, I think its an M-81 is what they call it. Its a military carrier. A personnel carrier. Its a one inch thick shell on it so its armor plated Weve done shows at hockey arenas and you know hockey arenas have freon lines all in the floor and everybodys afraid well start cracking the floor and youre talking hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace those freon lines so they just stopped booking it, which is fine. Its another one thats a pain to take out, its so heavy Its fun to drive. Oh, its a ball to drive When you go through a set of cars you dont go over them, you go through them. We used to take it and put a rampwed put a couple cars and a rampand hit the ramp and have about thirty feet and then three more cars and you land on those last three cars and theyre down on the ground when you drive off And it just kept getting more popular and popular. Weve been in seven different movies with this silly truck. Weve been in fifteen different countries. We licensed two trucks in England who run all the time over in the UK. The first time we ever did a car crush it was just in a local farmers field here in St. Louis and I told Jim Kramer, I said, Ya know, we need to try that. I know the trucks will drive right over the top of these and itll probably be entertaining. So he got a couple of cars in a farmers field and we drove over the carsit was just the easiest thing in the worldI had a little VHS camera and a videotape and, and a couple of


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promoters saw it and said, You gotta do that in front of a crowd. And after about nine months of everybody talking and talking we finally did a show in Columbia, Missouri, and the people went nuts Just totally nuts. Because back then I was still running a muffler so it was quiet and you could hear the car crunching and the glass popping out and every thing else the people just surround you The first big show we did was at the Pontiac Silverdome and it was the same way, they had three security people and they had 68,000 people show up at the show. And we went up on top of the cars and I stoppedand my son was riding with me because back then youd just crawl up on it and stop, you never had to put seatbelts and all that stuff onand 30,000 people came over the walls and surrounded us; we couldnt move for half an hour. SAM: How do you get up there? BOB: How do you get in the big one or the regular one? SAM: The big one.



BOB: You have to go inside the tire Theres lugs there, you climb up the lugs, climb on top the tire, climb in the bed, reach out open the door, and kinda swing around and get in there. Its geared like 360 to 1. Its got two transfer cases. And then the big military rear ends on it. Plus a planetary on each wheel. AP: What does any of that mean? BOB: Okay (rubbing hands together, excitedly) Gears When we first put these big sixty-sixes on the regular trucks I broke axles all the time and the axles were two and a half inches in diameter. Thats a thousand dollar axle thatd just break. Youd get on the gas and break it. So we had to do something to help our trucks out. The gear ratio: you got your engine thatll turn 6,000 rpm, you got a transmission after that which will gear you down 3 to 1 basically, then you got a transfer case that transfers the power between your rear axle and your front axle and it has another low gear in it like a 2 to 1. So you multiply the reductions and then your rear end has another reduction that you multiply that gives you your final ratio. Well, it was still too much for these axles. For the tractors now they make a planetary. Its a gear ratio right on the wheel. So from that point all the gear ratio here can actually go up higher because your reduction is right at the wheel. These arent going to break. The reduction is at the wheel. Its past that point. So we run all our trucks on a ZF axle, a German axle, and its got a 6.3 to 1 reduction right at the wheel. It just relieves the whole drive train to that point. Thats how we end up making these things work. We still break parts now, I cant say that we dont break them any more, but we dont break them as much. Each time we fix up, they put a little more horsepower, they find another weak link, and you break something else so you got to make it stronger We do over 900 show days a year with our trucks. Just in the states, thats not the ones in England at all. We have seven or eight trucks on the road every weekend doing events. It makes it easier when you have


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more vehicles, you can kind of compensate for when you start breaking, you can fix it on the rest of them before they break. It is frustrating because it never stops. Everybodys got big feet like I do Ive never driven my newer trucks. The newer trucks have a better suspension. The older trucks, what they call Stage 1 monster trucks, its just a pick up truck frame, heavy springs on it, and big tires. Stage 2 we went to a heavier truck frame, bigger axles, and planetaries, and bigger tires on

it And thats about as far as I got. From that point on I started working on AutoCAD, I had to learn AutoCAD and design a chassis, a tube chassis that would work for our application. Because everybody was still running these 15,000 to 17,000 pound trucks and then there were promoters wanting us to race. Well, you cant. There were probably three guys in that time who broke their backs in these things they were so rough riding. So I designed the tube chasey somewhat like they do in



drag racing and we put nitrogen gas shocks on it and instead of having six inches of suspension we now have thirty inches. So they can jump thingsweve jumped an airplane, a 727 Weve jumped one of our semis lengthwise with our trucks And it still amazes me. When I drove you couldnt take it a foot off the ground without breaking something. AP: Do you miss driving? BOB: I miss driving. And Ive driven the newer trucks on our test ground, just driving around a little but Ive never been able to race them. And Ive always wanted to get out and race because it has an automatic transmission, its power steering, its not that big a deal to drive. But I watch the drivers when theyre involved in a race or a competition and you cant get in there and think about what to do next, youve got to know what to do next, its got to be automatic. And I watched one of my drivers in the Pontiac Silverdome as a matter of fact and he came around the turn went over the first set of cars, and landed on his front wheels and theres a wall here. Well he has to power it then okay, he powered it, and then hit the brakes and went up again, he had to power it a second time and he slide sideways just barely touching the well. And to think that fast. I said, I dont want to get in that seat. Id never be able to handle it. Unless youre in that seat every day, every week, and familiar with it, and comfortable with it, youre not going to handle it. And well design a truck around a driver. When he gets in there, we put the seat where he wants it, the shift wherever he wants it, make it so that where its him when he sits in it. It makes a big difference. AP: What of this subculture youve created? BOB: I feel somewhat responsible when something happens, negative. I shouldnt, but I do. Things happen now and then. Theres been several people killed by monster trucks at events, which really, really, really bothers me. If it happened with one of my trucks I think Id close down for a while just to square away because life is too important, more important than what were doing. Theres an organization out, which I probably shouldnt mention names, but theyre a huge conglomerate that has taken over the industry as of about three, four years ago. They own TV stations, they own 1,200 radio stations, they own the major venues


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across the country, they own all the billboards in the country, they own thirty monster trucks of their own. So their shows go on, they put on their own shows, and their trucks always win. And they trash trucks. Theyre a copy of WCW wrestling. A truck will go out there, and just for nothing hell roll the truck over. The crowd likes to see that stuff. And I think its the worst thing in the world for our industry. Im pushing the other direction. Theres a bunch of us who wont work for those people at all. And were trying to promote a real race series around the country. We started an organization called PRO-MT which is strictly for pure racing. And we do the same thing, we do the freestyle, the driver gets out and shows what he can do, but we never roll a truck unless every once in a while theres an accident where he goes too far and you roll it, that happens. In fact, if you look at most of my tucks, each driver has two or three cartoon truck decals upside down on his window, thats how many times hes rolled it. When that conglomerate took over the industry, I said, They cant hurt me. I was bullheaded about it. They wanted to buy it, I wouldnt sell it to them. They said, Fine, well put you out of business. Thats their terminology. Thats the way they work. I just said, Well that cant effect me, Ive got these other places I can go. Well, things slowed up a little. And I didnt prepare for it. Its taken several years to get out of that hole. Thats the thing about this business, you learn, every year you learn something else and learn something else. And this years been great. Its just going just bonkers. Every truck weve got is booked. Weve got bookings two years in advance in some cases right now. (Bob receives a cell phone conversation from his wife.) Im still on camera Yeah, Ill call you when Im done. (hangs up.) What did we do without phones? You know, I was talking with my grandkids the other day and I says, You probably dont even know what carbon paper is. Do you guys know what carbon paper is? AP: Its for making copies, right? BOB: Thats the way we used to make copies years ago. Carbon paper. And you get dirt on your hands. The kids had no idea what carbon paper was. The times are changing




he St. Louis Arch is something of a mystery, an optical illusion of sorts, something I just couldnt take my eyes off. This gateway casts a shadow across the fat, ugly masses of Missouri and the rest of the Midwest. But for what its worth, I was impressed. If for only a moment. The Statue of Liberty is 305 feet tall. The Washington Monument is 555 feet tall. The Gateway Arch is 630 feet tall. The sixty-foot heads carved on the face of Mt. Rushmore are designed to the scale of men who would stand 465 feet tall, a height that would easily allow those Presidential giants to walk between the legs of the arch.


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The arch, both 630 feet in height and 630 feet in width, designed by Eero Saarinen, is an inverted catenary curve, like the curve formed by a heavy chain hanging freely between two supports.

In cross section, each arch leg is a double-walled equilateral triangle with a hollow core forty feet wide at the base, tapering to fifteen and a half feet at the top. The inner skin is made of A-7 carbon steel, 3/8 thick, except at the corners where it is 1 thick for greater stability. The outside surface is fashioned from 900 tons of polished stainless steel in panels 14 thick, varying in size from 6 by 18 feet to 6 by 5 feet. And the Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Companyat plants in both Pittsburgh and Warren, PAput it all together and shipped the sections out West to St. Louis where it was assembled in 1935 as a commemoration for the westward expansion of The United States. Back then, to make a place for The Gateway Arch National Park, city officials bought-out tenants and bulldozed over forty city blocks of homes, apartment buildings, shoe stores, groceries, cafes, bars, and hotels, displacing hundreds of citizens some of whom I think may have been Native American.

Caught somewhere between the South and the Midwest, St. Louis feels like a combination of the worst of both regions. St. Louis will always



be a place of stagnation and wanted departure. Kansas City has trains. Detroit has cars. St. Louis has nothing. Certainly racially integrated, St. Louis is. But diversity and intermingling is not enough. The people of St. Louis are a slow-witted, bitter, self-righteous, fat fucking people. They all wish they lived in New Orleans or at least had some claim to fame aside from Nelly and the point of departure for Lewis and Clark, the latter of which doesnt say much for the town because those boys couldnt wait to get the fuck out and travel as far away from this place as they could. My countrymen, I feel sorry for you if your country is St. Louis. Missouri, misery, molasses, mildew, mild misfortune Meet me in St. Louie, hootchie cootchie

On our roadtrip we happened upon St. Louis during a celebration: the 100th anniversary weekend of Eads Bridge, the first tubular steel arch structure of its kind. The Neville Brothers played but we missed their set eating dinner and returned just in time for the fireworks show, what would be the second fireworks show of our trip. And this one was a lot like the lastmost fireworks shows are the samebut then St. Louis pulled an ace from its sleeve and a powerful stream of water formed a fanning wall of water in the Mississippi River. Laser show. Projections of film and light hit the water wall depicting the history of St. Louis from Lewis and Clark, to Eads Bridge, to The Gateway Arch, all the way up to the present with rap star Nelly. It was really embarrassing. But looking into the vacant, misty eyes of those Missourians around me, I could tell it was the most amazing thing any of them had ever seen. Mike Marriner aimed the camera at my face, undoubtedly illuminated by the lights on the water wall. What do you think? he asked me. Fuck this town, I said. Take me to Chicago.


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his state is called Illinois and we live in the Central Time Zone. Chicagoland? Certainly the most segregated city in America. Home of one of the greatest baseball stadiums this world will ever know and the losing team who claims it almost exclusively during the day. While some say, New York is the greatest city in the world, some say, with much more conviction, Chicago is the greatest city in America. We arrived in Chicago in the late afternoon during the weekend celebration of the opening of the long-anticipated Millennium Park. An almost $500 million dollar, entirely privately funded, four year late, urban planning project, a 200 some-odd acre park donated to the people



of Chicago by Mayor Daley, well, its all great and good but seems a little bourgeois, a little were better than you, a little holier than thou. Up against the great Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue, in downtown Chicago, Millennium Park is the combined effort of artists, architects, urban planners, landscapers, and designers including Frank Gehry, Anish Kapoor, James Plensa, and Kathryn Gustafson. The park was conceived in 1997 to create a new parkland in Grant Park, previously surrounded by unsightly railroad tracks, parking lots, and generally underdeveloped land in prime, lakefront real estate. City in a Garden, thats Chicagos motto. And everyones real proud of it. Although, dont get me wrong. As a whole, I liked Millennium Park. The architecture was impressive but not insanely unique or obviously appropriate. It was cool, but not exactly perfect or mouthwatering. However, the art was fascinating. Especially Cloud Gate, a giant mirrored jelly bean large enough for hoards of pedestrians to fit underneath it and stare up at their concave reflection. Designed by Anish Kapoor, the thirty-three feet high, 110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of seamless highly polished stainless steel plates that portrays an arched reflection of Chicagos skyline and Millennium Park.

Our interview in Chicago was at Millennium Park with Kevin ODonnell, a musician and composer who wrote the score for the Red Moon performance. After the concert in the amphitheater, almost immediately after the crowds applause died down, a different song began playing, and off at the far side of the park you could see a cluster of people holding torches and glowing orbs. As ODonnells psychedelic and mysterious composition played and progressed, the procession moved through the park towards Cloud Gate. Hundreds of Red Moon performers paraded in a line through the park. The performers wore ragged, woodland costumes and pushed tenfoot torches and carried glowing orbs or white flags. And when they circled around Cloud Gate, park security formed a perimeter to block off the crowd of spectators scrambling to follow the procession. Groupings of performers circled around each of the four torches and from beneath the flames projectors played films depicting the four elements upon Cloud Gate. Then, between each projector and


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the reflective sculpture, performers made slow, fluid circles with the pure white flags catching moments of the films. Then a member of Red Moon moved to each security guard and, receiving some doubt but eventual acquiescence, the performer relieved the guards of their duty thus permitting the crowd to move freely within the performance. As spectators, we transgressed. When art is free from the confines of creator and viewer, something beautiful happens. No explanation is necessary. Everyones predetermined opinions fade into nothing. And even though security is called off, no one disturbs a thing. Thats art.

The performance concluded and the Red Moon members dispersed into the crowdthe whole scene just sort evaporatedso we decided to move to a film screening on the roof of a nearby building in the park. Supposedly, Ira Glass was to narrate an animation by Chris Ware. And sure enough, we found that to be true. On the rooftop, surrounded by a forest of high Chicago skyscrapers, waiting for the film screening, amidst the roadtrippers and a crowd of eager Chris Ware fans, I made eye-contact with a cute blonde girl. Then I caught her looking again. And she wasnt wearing a bra, that was alltoo-obvious. I moved quickly through the crowd. Where are you going? Sam called after me. Hi, whats up? I said to the blonde. Nothing, whats up with you? she replied. Her friend took a step back and held tight to the straps of her backpack. Oh, nothing much, just enjoying this whole Millennium Park thing, I said. You dont know about any good bars in the area do you? We just moved here, the blonde said, smiling. She was cute, sharpjawed, glacier eyes, and she rested her palms on her hips as she stood there talking with me. Im not from around here either, I said. Where are you from? Oh, Im just here for the night, I said, and left it at that. We stood without talking for a moment. You dont think we could drink here, do you? the blonde asked. Of course we can, I said. She laughed. She looked at her friend. Her friend shrugged.



Reaching in her friends backpack the blonde pulled out three cans of beer and handed the last one to me.

The Chris Ware animation was fantastic and Ira Glass did a wonderful narration. The cartoon followed Wares character Rusty Brown as he meandered through Chicago discovering the stories behind some of the citys oldest, most famous, now demolished skyscrapers. I remember it being really sad and the ending almost bringing me to tears. When the animation concluded the audience readjusted to reality in that shifty, shuffling, not exactly silent way audiences do, and I made a small pile of empty beer cans on the rooftop. Is there any more? I asked the girls. Nope, they said. Sorry. The one with the backpack stood up. The blonde followed her lead saying, It was nice to meet you. I got her phone number, and she waved goodbye just before she was out of sight, but I never called. Youre such a slut, Chuck told me. Whatever. Hey there, drunko, said Sam. Whatever, I said again, slightly peeved about the girls escape. Im gonna go talk to Chris. Do you know what he looks like? Sam asked. Hes that nerdy-looking guy right there, I said, pointing, following my finger to the tall, bespectacled man near the projector entertaining two hipster girls. Well, thank you, Chris said to the girls. Thank you so much, thats nice to hear. Chris, I want to show you something, one of the girls said. Okay, he replied. He was nervous. The girl kicked up her leg and dropped it on the table. Then she pulled up her pant leg to reveal a calf-length Chris Ware Rusty Brown cartoon tattoo. She waited for his reaction but everyone around, including Chris, stood stunned and staring. Wow, Chris said. Thats very flattering. He rubbed his balding head. And kind of creepy. The girls thanked him again and ran off arm-in-arm giggling through the crowd.


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Whats up, Chris, Im Andy. Hi, Andy. I dont have any tattoos.

the Weiner Circle

Later that night we went to the Weiner Circle, an infamous hot dog joint in a poor part of Chicago. Its one of those post-bar stop-off spots, but this one has an amazing gimmick. You walk up, make your way through the picnic table seating, enter the cramped little shack, and the ugly, fat black woman behind the counter says, What the fuck do you want, you little hobbit? What? you ask. What the fuck you want, Frodo? You want something? she says. So you say, Yeah, bitch. I want a mother fucking hot dog with everything and I want your pussy on a plate next to it. And she says: Well why dont you go get my name tattooed on your dick and come back and maybe then Ill fuck you in the ass with some mother fucking hotdog. Listen, you better give me a fucking hotdog right now before I run off and rape your parents, you greasy clam-strip ho! Well, then here you go, asshole, thats three bucks. It was the best hotdog Ive ever eaten. And then I went back for more.



Most of the feeling, most of the time, organizing throughout the 60s and 70s was of feeling small and powerless. So now, the notion that is now played back to us about the 60s is oh, well, we dont have an anti-war movement now because look what they had in the 60s. But that took ten years to build. And it had millions of ups and downs like this. And you know every single year that I was involved, Time Magazine and Newsweek Magazine would open their September, the first week of September issue, by declaring the 60s dead. You know, they started saying that in 67. -Bernardine Dohrn


ow many ex-fugitives do you know with a managerial role in the law department of a reputable university? Bernardines office is decorated with photographs of her husband and their sons but none taken before she was forty years old. Is that out of the ordinary for any other working sixty-something mother? Bernardine is proud of what she did and feels no remorse. She


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accepts that their goal, to overthrow the United States government, was a goal left unaccomplished, unfulfilled, but a goal not unnecessary. She still believes what she did was right and justifies what she considers their failure with a list of post-civil rights and post-antiwar movement movements like feminism and environmentalism. Now she works for children, the voiceless caste of America, the displaced. She teaches, she takes her students to see genocide sights in Rwanda. Bernardine is the mother of three sons. And even she doesnt know what to do about any of this. The administration serves the minority of the population. The media reports what the administration tells them to report. Whats the next thing? Sure, its not underground newspapers any more, now its the internet but what the hell difference does that make? They worked so hard, sacrificed so much for over ten years, their entire lives really, and for what? So that now the newspapers will not print photos of flag-covered coffins? Image saturated society. 4.8 % of the worlds population, and we control 60 % of the wealth. Attractive and excited for a sixty-two year old woman, Bernardine has a faded tattoo of a flower on her chest that pokes out above her shirt and complements the fake flower corsage pinned to the lapel of her business suit. She tells us that New Yorkers should always live in a different city for a little while because youll eventually return to New York anyway.

AP: Well no, none of us are from New York: Sams from Detroit and Jeffs from Colorado, I spent most of my life in Seattle. BERNARDINE DOHRN: Oh, okay so you didnt grow up there. AP: No, were not New Yorkersyet. Thats what Im afraid of. That if I stay any longer Ill become a New Yorker and never leave. BERNARDINE: Well it definitely could be worse, its nice having a place, you know. I got back last night from a college in Western Massachusetts. And right after Bill and I spoke, my husband and I spoke, Art Spiegelman spoke, anddo you know who he is? Hes the cartoonist who has drawn



The New Yorker covers for the last ten years, and hes written these incredible books, Maus I and Maus II being the most famous of them. And he was, among the many other brilliant things that he did, describing why, how afterhe was right there at 9/11 trying to get to their kid in high school and get their kid out of school, watched the towers fall, they lived right three blocks away from the towers. And he was saying I now understandand hes the son of Holocaust survivors, you knowhe was saying I now understand why the Jews didnt leave Germany. He said this is my hood, I cant leave New York, you know, its where I am, for better or worse. I thought it was a very interesting because you do want to be located in place, but you also want to have an ear to the ground about whats going on somewhere else. Its always a tension, how much to roam and how much to stay fixed. AP: Well, we usually start off each little chat with, um, you know, like Sam was saying: Jeff and I just graduated and Sam has one more semester and were traveling across the country interviewing people about how they got to be where they are from where we are now, and, um What were you thinking when you were twenty something and trying to figure out what you wanted to do with your life, and how did you end up here? BERNARDINE: Uh you know, Im sixty-two, and thats (laughing), thats a long story! Well, Ill tell you about my twenty-second year. My twenty-first, twenty-second year, thats kind of interesting, because I went to the University of Chicago on the southside here. And when I graduated, it was very unusual and very hard for women to get into graduate school; its hard to remember how true that was, but it was very true. So I had applied to graduate school in Chinese Studies, God knows why, and um... you know, the interview consisted of, youre going to get married, itll take you seven years to learn Chinese, its not worth our investment, basically, that was the 1-2-3 of it. So I did what used to be called the fifth year for women, which is that I went to work at the NIA department for public aid as a caseworker. And it was a great thing for me to do at the time, because I was, I felt that I was somewhat worldly. I was living on the southside of Chicago with a lot of people, five students who were New Yorkers, and a lot of rich cultural life, but, you know, having a caseload of welfare mothers on the westside of Chicago and working at an office in Englewood on the southwest side of Chicago and being in


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the Cook County Hospital and the Cook County Jail and public housing everyday really was eye-opening for me then, and kind of brought me in conflict with a world that I knew about and I walked around in but I really didnt know people and didnt really know what was happening, and so I then somewhat accidentally went back and went to law school but I brought with me that experience and I started doing advising what was then just a growing welfare rights movement from the point of view of the case worker having the handbook, having the rules, having the regulations and being in law school. And so I somewhat accidentally and somewhat deliberately got myself linked with the social struggle of single welfare mothers and the law and Chicago life and then by great good luck the next year, 1965, 64, was the year Dr. King came to Chicago from the south. And I had worked for some lawyers in the city who were Kings lawyers when he came to Chicago, and so they asked us to organize a group of law students to come work with his organizers on the westside of Chicago, and, you know thats what happened to me! So I barely finished law school. I basically just completely got swept away with the community organizing around housing that was going on out in Garfield Park and Lawndale on the westside of Chicago. You know, got to put myself with a group of people my age but who had already been arrested fifty times and had been through the southern sheriffs and the dogs and the jails and the fire hoses and had a whole range of life experience that I didnt know anything about, and they had a brilliantto me in a way still the most politically brilliant organizing idea that I have ever since seen, really, which was that we used to go door to door in the west side of Chicago, well, first Dr. King wanted to deal with slum lords and housing, that was his idea. You cant remember, but at the time, 1964 or 5, the Civil Rights movement was considered a southern issue. It was the south of the country that was racist, it was the south that disenfranchised black voters, it was the south that had, you know, a criminal justice approach to black equality, but the north felt self-righteous about it, and so Dr. Kings decision to come north was an effort to transition the Civil Rights movement from equal rights legislation to economic and social justice across the board, and it was also risky for him because the year before had been the Watts riots and uprisings in New York City and everybody who was close to the ground in the black community knew that the level of frustration and anger and segregation and hostility was deep and intense. So his move here was kind of carefully planned and choreographed, but not really, idea that this



would be the transition to the next stage of the Civil Rights movement, which would include the whole country and would go beyond voting formal voting rights to a struggle for genuine equality. So he came here with the idea that he would, he asked a group of people, including us law students, to find out who the biggest slum lords were in Chicago. So we spent two months, my second year of law schoolI mean, second year of law school you know nothing, right? I mean, youre a law student but you know nothingto find out who the biggest slum lords were on the westside and southside of Chicago. We spent two months and realized that we couldnt find out, that these buildings were held in blind trusts and that the identity of the owners were protected through layers of holding companies and so forth and it was going to take us forever and maybe never and we had to come back and say to him we cant do it, so he said, fine, well call a city-wide rent strike. I mean it was really kind of interesting, and so suddenly, a city-wide rent strike. We were, partly because we were able to, his lawyers and us, saying theres a building codedo you want this kind of detail? Its a very interesting story, is this ok? AP: Its great. BERNARDINE: There was, and still is, a Chicago building code, in exchange for rent, that the building be habitable. To some extent habitable was defined, in part, by the building code, it had to have a certain kind of electricity, and hot water, and security, and safety on the roof and so on like that. So we said to him, the buildings are not habitable, the tenants have the right to put their money in escrow the first of every month and to use that money to put the building up to code, then the money has to go, after that, back to the landlord, but if the landlord wont do it the tenants have the right to do it, and they cant be evicted during that period if they do this all right. So what we did, he loved the idea, so what we did was we went, we: the organizers, the civil rights organizers, and me, who had a little armband on that said legalIm a second year law student, rememberwould go door to door and ask tenants, ask people if they had problems with the building and if they wanted to meet about it and they would make a list of everything that was wrong with their building no child protective things on the windows, broken latches on the door, no heat in the winter, no hot water, rats and roaches, you know, falling down plaster, so on, and then they would say, theres something you can


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do about it? and turn to me, you know, the white girl from the University of Chicago, and I would say, you can do this and if you decide to do this, well make sure that you wont get evicted. The beauty, of course, of the strategy was that it was grounded on the premise that the people with the problems are the people with the solutions. It wasnt like, oh, were going to come in and fix your building, or well build you new housing or well fight the legislature. It was, you know, heres an idea, if you take it up well fight for you, but its in your hands about whether you do the work, whether you contract the work, whether you decide to do the electricity first, or, you know, put a lock on the front door first, you have to shape the habitability of your building with your co-tenants. So it spread beyond our capacity to keep up with it, this idea, cause it was such a brilliant strategy. And then on the weekends Dr. King would lead these marches into the segregated white neighborhoods, particularly of Englewood in the southside, that grew and grew and grew in force and violence and numbers and drama over the course of the summer, but simultaneously this kind of very practical change policy was under way and we spent, I spent all of my second year of law school working to prevent people from being evicted. So we went into landlord tenant court everyday with the lawyers, these downtown lawyers with these enormous briefs about how they couldnt be evicted because the building was below code but the tenants were depositing the money in escrow and gonna fix up the building andthe landlord tenant court was run by the only black judge in all of Chicago, Judge Edith Sampson, I think maybe the only woman but certainly the only AfricanAmerican judge, who used to do an eviction every twenty-two seconds, that was hershe was famous for that, and would go in there to kind of tie up the works, which we did, to her rageand she was a formidable woman. So that was our job, and, you know, it was a brilliant strategy, in fact it spread very quickly to the suburbs. It was interesting, a lot of people had the idea, a lot of sub-standard housing had been thrown together in the new emerging south Chicago suburbs that a lot of people had bought, trying to upgrade their housing, not being able to move into the white neighborhoods in Chicago. So it was a tumultuous year, and a really eye opening year for somebody my age, and I think thats the challenge for all of you, is to find a place and put yourself somewhere where there is, I think, a grassroots struggle going on, where theres people you can learn from where theres



people who can push you, where you get to see it revealed to you in all of its formidable, awesome, intimidation forcepower. And try to figure out how to lean against it. That was my baptism, really, into the movement and into the notion of social justice and into the notion of using your professional skills or your education or your privilege to be on the side of ordinary people. I mean, my life is hardly a model after that, I dont know how much you know what Ive done, but anyway, many of other things on the way, but that sense, the most exciting things you can do is be part of struggle, because, you know, its making meaning, that people are meaning makers, that you dont want to live your life accumulating stuff. Even though, as you can see (laughing) I have a lot of stuff in this room. But, you know, the real deal is being in something meaningful and that takes risks and puts yourself on the side of the dispossessed. So thats what Ive tried to do, in various, odd ways, including here at this law school. JEFF: What were some more of the major turning points in your career and your pathsome of the key ones that you remember in hindsight from nowthat pop out in your memory? BERNARDINE: Well, you know, one of the dilemmas that happened, of course, was that this struggle, which went on in Chicago with Dr. Kings organization, lasted about a year and a half, and part of what also influenced me was that at the end of the day, he left Chicago. There was enormous pressure on him to leavethe marches got huge and violent and were getting national attention about segregated housing in the north. Chicago was and is, you might know, one of the most segregated cities in the world. And, so, he was really underand I got to see it, up close. I mean I was not a confidante of his or anything, but I was a kid around the meetings, and youd watch people flying in from all over the country putting pressure on him to leave Chicago and to stop the marches, basically. And it was heavy because it was the people who were funding him and supporting him and, you know, the labor unions and the kind of liberal wing of the democratic party and the powers that beother Civil Rights leaders, more kind of respectable institutions of the time. And, meanwhile, from the bottom up, among young people there was the escalating war and this escalating kind of sense of armed rebellion inside the country and the restlessness of young people who didnt want a slow strategy, they wanted a piece of the pie now, they wanted dignity


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immediately, and thought that their parents and grandparents had waited too long. So all hell was breaking loose and at the same time the war in Vietnam was escalating so what started to happen, to me, by the end of that summer of 66 and the beginning of my last year of law school was that more and more people from around the city that were doing community organizing would ask me to come talk about draft resistance and, so, the issues started to mergethe issues of economic access and social dignity and the question of the war and empire. And, so, a group of us law students and lawyers in town began more and more doing trying to figure out networks for counseling young men. Plus, every one of my fellow law students except the six of us who were women, were imminently facing the draft. So the issue of the war was both in poor communities where kids were being sent to fight, and in law schools where you were about to lose your deferment was an immediate issue. So I began to do more and more work around draft counseling and antiwar counseling. So that merger of issues and that kind of cauldron of sense that we were in a extraordinary moment where radical change was possible influenced me enormously, that moment in time. And so when I graduated from law school I went and worked for the National Lawyers Guild organizing law students and lawyers around these same issues, and then from there I became the head of SDS, a big student organization. For the next three years I mainly traveled and spoke at universities and campuses and law schools, but they were the three years that all hell was breaking looseyou know, the times were tumultuous, in ways that are not unfamiliar today, in some ways same issues, but with a real sense of hope instead of a real sense of cynicism and despair, so for some reason we all thought we could change the world. I dont mean just a few of us, I mean millions of people thought it really mattered, that the personal was political, that your choices, you know, you wanted towe used to say in SDSlive your life in accord with your values, in harmony with your values. We didnt want to be hypocrites like our parents were; of course that turns out to be a harder thing to do than we thought, but I think they were right questions for young people to have, to try to make a life with meaning. And it was also, I suppose, worth noting, that it was also a kind of a time of, as Lyndon Johnson, President Johnson used to say, of guns and butter; so it was a time of relative wealth, so millions of us sort of dropped out and walked away from a professional career and from security, without worrying too much about it. I mean, weit



wasnt just rich kids that did it: I was first generation college, I didnt have any economic back-up, my parents didnt have any money, I had college debt. But the idea wasIm not gonna march into the laborthe forces of labor and do my programmed job and not have a meaningful life, why would you want to do that? And so millions of people tried it, in lots of different ways, and I think we changed the world even though we didnt make the revolution we thought we were going to make. So out of that kind of cauldron of the peace movement and the Civil Rights movement and the anti-war movement came the womens movement and a lesbian movement and the environmental rights movement and the disability rights movement and Native American struggles and things that we nowadays take for granted as having changed the map of American life, but I think that the movements from the 60s and early 70s spawned all these other ways of changing the world and ways of getting to fundamental issues that we now take for granted. AP: I know a little bit about where you went from the SDS to the Weather Underground, but how do you get from something that radical to being a law professor? What was between there? BERNARDINE: You know, I cant tell you a sixty-two year life in an interview like this, but it is odd that Im in a law school, I must grant you that. Not that many people have gone from the 10 Most Wanted List to, but the 10 Most Wanted List, I must say, those years were pretty remarkable in themselves. Somebody recently gave me a book from 1923, when J. Edgar Hoover invented the 10 Most Wanted List, up through 1990, or something like that, its just pages of wanted posters of the FBIs 10 Most Wanted, with a little thing at the bottom about when they were caught and what happened to them, and its a very funny book becausethicknecked, wool shirt bank robbers, right? Bank robber, bank robber, bank robber for a hundred pages and then suddenly in the 70s you have 6 of the Top 10 Most Wanted being students, you know, militantsAngela Davis and Rap Brown and me, I mean its completely bizarre, you have people with graduate degrees who are political activists being a majority of the 10 Most Wanted List, then it goes back to being bank robber, bank robber, bank robbers how? I dont know, there are a lot of answers to that. It wasnt a direct line, it was-I was underground for 11 years. I was a fugitive for eleven years. I cant even imagine that now, when I say it,


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I imagine looking forward and saying I think Ill disappear for eleven years and I cant even imagine it. When I turned myself in all the federal charges were dismissed because of governmental misconduct. They had indicted us for conspiracy, two big federal conspiracy charges, but it was part of the illegal FBI program called COINTEL PRO where they broke into peoples apartments and wire tapped peoples phones and hung people out windows and assassinated black leaders, so they had a kind of two-pronged strategy which was extremely murderous and violent toward the Black Panthers and toward groups that they thought would have charisma, they were trying to, as J. Edgar Hoover saw it, prevent the rise of a Black Messiah, which included murdering Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in their beds as we now know that they did, and then it included much lighter techniques for white people because theres always a black/white dichotomy here, but nonetheless the strategy against us was to arrest, disrupt, infiltrate, dirty tricks kind of situation demobilize us from being a political force. In any event, the big charges were dropped and the lighter demonstration charges remained. I was waiting tables, I had two little kids, I lived in a fifth floor walk-up in New York, so we tried to figure out how to start over. Bill, my partner, and I he was a daycare teacher and I kept waiting tables for a while, and then I worked at a law firm, and then I went to jail for 9 months for refusing to talk to a grand jury. Then I came out, and went back to work for a law firm, then we moved to Chicago. Many things happened and it took me a long time to try to figure out how to be in the present. AP: What was that like, what was the transition BERNARDINE: It was pretty weird. You know, on one hand nothing changed. We came into Chicago, turned myself in. There was a huge media uproar. We went back to our fifth floor walk-up in New York, everybody on the street was buzzing about it, and then the restaurant wanted me to come back because their name was on the front page of The New York Times. You know its kind of crazy, you could be a mass murderer and the neighbors always say, oh, they were such nice people, you know? Its like, all kinds of stuff, but basically we went back to our lives, the daycare center wanted Bill to stay it took a lot of discussion, you know, why didnt you tell us who you really were? And who are you really? But at the end of the day, our lives remained remarkably the same, for quite awhile. Although then I went to jail for a year and that



was a mess because the kids were little and we had no resources and stuff. But then, Bill went back to graduate school, and got a PhD, and wanted to move here and take a job at the University of Illinois, and we moved here. Both of us grew up in Chicago and so for us it was kind of a coming back to Chicago. But I floundered, for a several years; I couldnt figure out what to do. I applied for the bar and was rejected from the character and fitness committee of the barI took the bar seventeen years out of law school, which I passed, but I couldnt pass the Character and Fitness Committee, in part because I didnt want to renounce what wed done. So, some people I think had an easy transition back to their lives and what they did, and I had a long, muddled transitionI just couldnt figure out how to be in the present. But then I decided to go to work for the Public Guardians office here in Chicago. They agreed to hire me representing abused and neglected children. I decided I wanted to do Childrens Rights law because we had three little kids, Bill was a teacher, one of our kids was very troubled and had a lot of issues, and I felt like that was what I was doing anyway in my life, so I didnt want to decide to do something, death penalty or, something that didnt have anything to do with the day to day of our lives. So I went to work at an office representing abused and neglected children that was doing class action litigation, which I could work on because I didnt have to be in court being a lawyer. Um, so I did that for a couple of years, and then I worked for the ACLU on a Homeless Childrens Rights project and I worked at Legal Assistance Foundation, and, you know, kind of special projecting it, and then somebody gave me the opportunity to start a Childrens Rights project, and I looked around to see where to put it and knew somebody who was teaching here at the clinic and I came, and talked to them about it and they said to put it here, and so we started the Children/Family Justice Center here twelve years ago, and um, you know, its turned into a wonderful vibrant clinic that has ten people working at it, and I now teach womens rights and childrens rights, law, as well as direct this clinic. For me this childrens rights thing is an opportunity toI mean it sounds completely crazy that Im teaching at a law school, and it sounds completely different from what I was doing but from my point of view I dont see it as completely different, I really see the same issues. AP: Do you think that all that were experiencing in politics and the war is part of a larger gameplan?


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BERNARDINE: Its hard to say, you know, when youre in the moment. The thing thats so amazing about social struggles and social movements, you cant see whats gonna happen next. When Muhammad Ali took the stand that he wasnt gonna when he refused to step forward and go into the draft at the height of his career here he didnt know he was going to become Muhammad Ali, he was already Muhammad Ali, you know? But he didnt know that thirty years later everybody in the world would know his name and that he would be, kind of the guy who lights the torch andyou know what I mean? He became a total pariah, by that act. His wife didnt support him, the mosque didnt support him, the Nation of Islam didnt support him, his closest advisors didnt support him. He was all alone. And yet, you know, by that act, even though he did it at the height of his boxing career and gave up a great deal, he became known to people all over the world as a symbol of conscience for everybody. But you couldnt predict that, you know, the next couple years of his life were miserable. So I think, you look at this moment right now that youre all coming into, and I have to apologize for my generation because (laughing) we certainly never thought that we were going to leave you with this much of a messits bad. I think its bad, so I think were leaving you with the world in really dreadful crisis and with the United States willfully covering their eyes. We dont know who we are, we dont know where we are, as Americans. We cant name the six countries that surround Iraq, I mean, wereyou know? Iraqis can find the United States on a map. All Iraqis! Right? So its, its crazy how insular and isolated we are, were 4.8% of the worlds people, but weve dominated the world, militarily, and we think economically, its not going to last. So its a really perilous moment to figure out who we are and how we act. I dont know what to do, but I do think that you all, that theres a huge weight on you to wake up and to speak out. Speak truth to power, we used to say. In whatever way, you know? I dont know if you should do what we did. I dont know what the new forms are going to be. I hope you let us come along. I want to be there one more time (laughing), one more wave. AP: Do you feel personally responsible for leaving our generation with the current political state? BERNARDINE: What Ive tried to say before is that there is a whole



series of social change that happened because of the struggles of the 60s and 70s that we just take for granted, you know, although I think theyre under constant dissolve. I think the assualt on womens equality is over I dont know how you perceive it, but to me its like, relentless, everyday, just unbelievable. And it takes big forms and little forms, but theres a massive anti-feminist attempt to rollback the struggles for womens equality, and I think thats true in every domain. I mean, theres a massive attempt to destroy public education too. As soon as the elections are over theyre going to destroy social security, right when Im eligible. And, you know, I think the whole fabric that was taken for granted from the 30s until now is under assault, the whole notion that there should be a social infrastructure the whole notion that governments exist to tax and spend. I know that the Republicans run on an anti-tax and spend policy, but thats the point of governments. We come together in a social contract so that we can tax and spend. The question is what are we spending it on? Are we spending it on military? To dominate the world, and to dominate our own country in the name of safety, some kind of illusion of safety? Or are we spending it on encouraging peoples creative possibilities, and making sure that everybody is literate, and prepared, and fed. So, to me, theres goodsome of the contributions of the 60s were lasting, in that sensealthough theyre always under assault. For example, for thirty-five years it was very hard for The United States to invade another country. They wanted to invade Nicaragua but they had to do it covertly, they wanted to invade El Salvador but they had to do it covertly, and it really wasnt until the first Gulf War which almost even doesnt count because it was so short, but it does count because it set up 9/11, but really wasnt until 9/11 that the war powers act, and all of the kind of war traditions of the 60s, were eroded. So they lasted for a long time: the abolition of the draft, the notion that you know, you had to consult Congress before you went into a war. Now, they got around it, in a million waysyou know, low-intensity warfare and we bombed Iraq for ten years before we invaded it and so onIm not minimizing what was done during those periods. But I am saying that there were constraints. There were constraints on the FBI and the CIA before the Patriot Act, right? They had to disclose certain things and they werent allowed to do certain things. We werent supposed to assassinate people, we werent supposed to, you know, target people without trial, simple kind ofwe werent suppose to torture people. They were just basic ideas, which have all been shredded! But they lasted for a fairly long


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period of time. And there were constraints on, I would say, aggressive government power. But at the same time, you know, the rise of the right wing, the consolidation of what I would say is a minority of the American people into governmental power, a minority set of view points on social issues and economic issues and a worldview, you know, anti-UN, anticollaboration, military dominated so, you know, one could say that our failures led to this kind of incredible right-wing tide that weve been in. I know the right wing thinks the left wing controls universities and the media, and I mean they run their programs constantly as if they dont have power, but actually they have power (laughing) and, you know, itsjust one little other response, which is, I think you all have an image, youve been encouraged to have an image of the 60s that is romanticized and dis-empowering [sic] instead of empowering, you know, that it was always big, and huge, that we that the combination of Woodstock and the demonstrations and the mall on Washington were all enormous, but it wasnt like that. It was more like this, felt more like this, most of the time, it was a small group of us surrounded by thousands of people who would yell go back to Russia, you know what I mean? Most of the feeling, most of the time, organizing throughout the 60s and 70s was of feeling small and powerless. So now, the notion that is now played back to us about the 60s is oh, well, we dont have an anti-war movement now because look what they had in the 60s. But that took ten years to build. And it had millions of ups and downs like this. And you know every single year that I was involved, Time Magazine and Newsweek Magazine would open their September, the first week of September issue, by declaring the 60s dead. You know, they started saying that in 67. They had a lead story about how the 60s were dead. So, the 60s is an idea. And the media opposed us, totally. AP: Getting back to what you said earlier, Im not sure exactly how the bar exam works, but you said theres a character exam? BERNARDINE: Its really quite an archaic system actually. If we did doctors this way it would be so bizarre you couldnt even imagine it. And theres something to the fact that state law differs, but not really. In todays mobile world its a funny thing to do. In any event, you have to take this exam and when you pass it every state has different procedures but every state has some requirement that you meet a character and fitness, a character and fitness test. Now, if you



think most lawyers or that most peoples opinions about lawyers are that they are moral and ethical people, now thats obviously not true. Thats a whole funny diversion but theres a couple of great articles that have been written about the character and fitness test. It used to be used to keep out Jews and Italians and the unwanted people a hundred years ago, Catholics, and, it used to be a way to come forward and tell who you were and be interviewed by somebody from the bar and it was a way of deciding your character. Then, over the years, there were different people, different ethnic groups fought their way into the legal profession. Its turned into different things, over time. So suddenly they started having trouble in the 60s because people would apply for the bar who had been arrested in civil rights demonstrations and theyd be excluded from the bar because they had an arrest, or people then who had drug arrest, you know, small time drug arrests. So all of this has been in turmoil, used be a way of saying if you didnt sign the anti-Communist clause, you know, saying that you wouldnt use force and violence to overthrow the U.S. Government, you couldnt get into the bar, and several people challenged thatnot because they were Communists but because they thought it was a ridiculous method of social control that didnt have anything to do with your ability to practice law in an ethical way. So its been used for different things over different periods of time, but it does exist, chaotic and weird as it is, as a method, as a screen for who gets their license. So when I went in front of it, I think RFK Jr. was also in front of it, and he had been arrested for buying heroin in Harlem and he had special hearings and he got admitted. I had no felony convictions. At the end of the day I had misdemeanor convictions, but I was bad. And they werent sure why I was bad and they werent quite sure what I had done, but they knew it was something. So I had a whole special series of hearings, um, in New York, and at the end of the day they wrote a thirty page report that ended with the line, At this time, on this record Miss Dohrn has not met her burden. So they werent quite saying I was unfit, but I wasnt quite fit. AP: You had said earlier that you had served nine months for BERNARDINE: Yeah, for civil contempt, for not cooperating with the federal attorney. AP: And that was after the bar?


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BERNARDINE: No, it was right before, unfortunately (laughing). It didnt help my chances for the bar. It was right before. AP: And they wanted you to do what? BERNARDINE: They had wanted me to provide handwriting samples to a federal grand jury that was investigating the Brinks robbery and murder in New York for which friends of ours were arrested. And I didnt have anything to do with it, in fact I disagreed with it, and they were old friends of ours and had gone a different direction. But I felt that the grand jury was a tool of the prosecutors and was being used to coerce testimony, and that I as hugely public personI had been sought by the FBI for fifteen or twenty years, tracked by the FBI, and they had rooms full of my handwriting, and the attempt to ask for my handwriting was just an attempt to get me to cooperate with an investigation that I was going to refuse to cooperate with. So it was kind of a question of principle and I refused to give my handwriting and I was put in jail and at the end of it, I think that the prosecutors and the police figured out that I didnt have anything to do with it, but I came back in front of the judge and instead of saying to me you hold the keysthe jailhouse door keys are in your hands, which is what they say when they send people off to grand juries, meaning you can undo this at any time by cooperating, he turned to the prosecutor and said, you already have her handwriting, why cant you use it? And the prosecutor said, I dont have her handwriting, and he said, she writes me letters all the time about prison conditions, Ill give you the letters, and, you know, the prosecutor was like, I need her to write this, not any writing, and he said we verify dead peoples handwriting all the time, Ill give you until next Monday to figure it out, so the tide turned, you know, and I got released. But its not considered a criminal offense, its a civil contempt, even though youre in jail, and its kind of an obscure part of the law. SAM: So you said if we figured out, whats next, that you want to jump in BERNARDINE: I do! SAM: What kind of advice would you have for someone thats in our



position, thats just graduating? BERNARDINE: I just think that you should use these years, these years you dont know what to do, and try to do everything you can think of (laughing). Because it gets harder to do, you know, once youre coupled up, and once you have kids, and once youyou just have to provide a certainyou can still do things, make a contribution, but you dont have as many choices, you need to have a sense of stability in your life, so... I think you should follow your heart. But I dont think you should, um, lock in, I think you should keep an open heart about what to learn, I think you should put yourself in a situation where you learn. Thats my main advice. Either find somebody you want to learn from and go work with them. Or put yourself in a situation where you feel like theres a community of people who will change you in ways you want to be changed. I had students this last year who decided to take this seminar on Rwanda. You know it was a really fascinating decision, because this is their spring break, their third year of law schooldo you really want to go look at genocide sites? Or do you want to go scuba diving at the Great Barrier ReefI mean, you know, theyre marching off into law careers, they dont know how much vacation theyre going to get. But the group of students who took this course very clearly felt that they wanted to be changed by it. They wanted to have their world disturbed. And, um, you know, that was kind of the deal. It was a fascinating venture. So I thinkthats the only thing I know how to tell youis to let your world be disturbed, you know, really put yourself somewhere where youre going to be shaken up a bit. And youre going to learn a lot. JEFF: Do you feel like you were purposely disturbing your world when you went underground and participated in that was that a conscious removal or disturbance? BERNARDINE: Yeah, well we really thought we were in a revolutionary moment. I mean we really thought that, you know, that the country, that the world was in revolutionary turmoil and that the U.S. was not an exception. AP: What degree of success do you think those revolutions had?


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BERNARDINE: Well, yes and no. I mean, they failed. Because, look at the kind of world we have. And yet, as I said I think they changed a lot of things. And I think, more importantly, the challengeobviously you guys arent in that kind of moment, if anything youre in a counterrevolutionary moment. So I think, the question now, facing you, is how can you make a difference over a long period of time. I think you should use these few years to really explore yourself and explore the world. But I think, you know, now, from this vantage point, I mean who knows? We could have cataclysmic changes in the next three months and then wed all look back and say, we saw it coming, right? (laughing) So its just very hard to predict, the moment that youre in. But I think the dilemma is, that were fed this view of history thats just disempowering. Everybody thinks that if we lived in the time of slavery that wed be anti-slavery. I mean, deep in our hearts all white people think, Well if I lived then, I would have been anti-slavery. Well, what? How? What would we have been? What did it mean? You know, to hide someone in your house, or to be part of a clandestine network, or to teach your own slaves how to read, or toyou know, distribute copies of abolitionist literature, orI mean what did it mean? And it didnt mean you had to be violent, you know? Thoreau, you know, the heart of environmental contemplativeness, found himself in prison and writing about Jan Brown so, you know, and whenwhos the guy who was Thoreaus good friend, Im just blanking on his name, hes the guy who was a transcendentalist also, a contemporary of Thoreaushe came to visit him in prison, he said, you know, what are you doing in prison, Thoreau? And Thoreau said, what are you doing outside of prison? I mean, you find yourself in your history in funny ways, you know? But the question is, whats your historical moment, right? What is the equivalent now? Because we look, and we think, Oh, if I was in Germany in World War II, of course, I would have been a moral person. How? Im sort of saying, you cant see your history when youre in it, but this is as pregnant a historical moment as 1939 in Germany, isnt it? Im not saying it is Germany or it is slavery, Im just saying its a historical moment, and we are all writing the ethical fabric of our lives by what we do everyday. SAM: Is there anything that we didnt ask you that you wish that we would have, that we didnt get around to? BERNARDINE: Um no! (laughing) I feel like Ive been blathering



on. I dont even know what is Pratt like, what did you do? Are you all artists? SAM: Were both photography majors, and hes a writer. BERNARDINE: Oh! Well that adds a whole new thing, because I really feel like arts and the culture is kind of, edge of, this question I raised about imagining another world, or seeing the you know, taking off the blinders and looking at the world were in. I just think that the ability of the artist to disturb is so great, better in a way than the media or all these other things we look to or think of, and, so it seems to me, hugely urgent. Have you read Sontags new book, On Regarding The Pain of Others? Its about photography. SAM: Yeah, Ive read a couple excerpts from there. BERNARDINE: Its a fabulous bookevery frame excludes, every frame is a choice, every frame tells the story. I mean, she reallyits a wonderful, short little book about war photography and atrocity photography that we read in my Rwanda seminar. SAM: Yeah, were kind of at a very liberal, leftist art school, so thats something that one of our instructors passed out and said, this is important, if youre taking pictures then this is something that you need to be reading. BERNARDINE: Right Its a very nice, short series of essays. I guess its a reconsideration of her On Photography that she wrote thirty years ago. And, it was really, I think maybe even one of the most important books we read in getting ready for Rwanda, in trying to think about taking in, you know, a million people killed in a hundred days, and just trying to get the scope of that and the immediacy of that.


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Our white, republican, Christian, heterosexual, HETEROSEXUAL race is at stake! You gender is at risk! Its these democrats! And those fornicating lesbians! Its time to strike back! - Fat Female Starbucks Customer in Beaverton, OR


ake in the umbrellas, Ms. Starbucks. Thieves roam these streets at night. This town is notorious, like the worst of the worst of the South Bronx on a moonless night. Or so they say. And who am I to argue with the locals? I eat their bread, drink their wine, rape and pillage, I am the Viking Vagrant Of Their Nightmares. Beware the dreadlock army. We will enslave you one day and that day may very well be tomorrow, or even today.


EXCEPRT FROM STARBUCKS/ROADTRIP NATION PAMPHLET: Roadtrip Nation was started when some recent college grads, who had no idea what they wanted to do with their lives, decided to take a roadtrip to figure it out. They bought an old run-down 31-foot RV, painted it neon green, and hit the road for three months and 17,000 miles to explore how other individuals found their roads in life. Along the way, they interviewed over 80 people, including: a Lobsterman in Maine, the scientist who decoded the Human Genome, the Director of Saturday Night Live, the stylist for Madonna, and Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz. All of the leaders shared where they were in their twenties, and how they resisted pressures of conformity to find their roads in life.

I had been inside a Starbucks only four times before the roadtrip. And only half those times did I make a purchase. On our roadtrip we stopped at every Starbucks we saw from Detroit to New York. Roadtrip Nation is co-sponsored by Starbucks. And aside from money, this means a few things: Roadtrip Nation gets a spot on the Starbucks website, each Starbucks gets some promotional material like little green cardboard RVs, and each RV team makes five appearances at various Starbucks across the country to show the interviews and meet the people for an hour or so. But also, as part of Starbucks sponsorship with Roadtrip Nation, each RV receives a Starbucks card credited with $500. Every morning all five of us used that card to buy grande vanilla lattes, and cranberry muffins, and orange juice, and, when I didnt steal it, The New York Times. It wasnt uncommon for any one of us to spend forty dollars at Starbucks, sometimes collectively buying ourselves both breakfast and a sandwich for lunch.

Starbucks was a source of sustenance in many ways. We could rest, regroup, pep up, check our email, shit, eat, and nap. I loitered. I washed. I brushed my teeth in their bathrooms. With all the time Ive spent in Starbucks coffee shops across the

country, Ive realized there are fewer environments nationwide that portray the peoples of a region more accurately than Starbucks. In Detroit I watched this elderly woman spill coffee on herself not once, or even twice, but three times, until a nearby patron politely suggested she not get a refill and maybe just get some rest. In Boulder I watched a scruffy man order a coffee and not drink it. I think he was pretending to be homeless. And in that Boulder Starbucks I saw probably the only black-haired girl in all of Colorado. In Seattle my friends met me at the U-Village Starbucks and we chitchatted with the regional manager who told us that Starbucks UVillage is the busiest, most lucrative Starbucks in the country. While writing this, I visited to see what I could learn. On the website, you can type in your address and the computer will give you the locations of every Starbucks within fifty or twenty or ten miles of your home. From where I live, my house in Brooklyn, where Im writing this book, in only a five-mile radius from where I sit right now, there are 137 Starbucks coffee shops.


I mean, Im here eighty-one days out of the year. And I think, you could talk to any of the ushers, you could talk to the security people. If theyre a baseball fan, being at Wrigley Field on a beautiful day like we are here today, and getting compensated, I mean, what else is there to ask for really? Its great. And also, being in a booth and if it rains I dont get wet. -Gary Presse


tanding there at home plate on Wrigley Field, I felt privileged and honored. It was like stepping on the moon. Like seeing the sunset over the Grand Canyon. Like church, if you believe in God. I had goosebumps. The smell of the grass, the dirt, everything those movies like Field of Dreams and Bull Durham depict, all that cheesy shit was real and moving. It brought me to tears. Excuse me, sir, someone whispered.


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Yes? I asked, wiping my eyes. Usually we dont let people get this close, the groundskeeper whispered, motioning to the batters box we stood in. Take your time, but Okay. I stood for another moment and tried to make note of everything through all five of my senses. There are few moments in life that you can recognize as a moment you will cherish for the rest of your life. Home plate at Wrigley was one of those moments. The clear blue sky, the far wall of ivy, the stadium seats seen from the field, the precision of the baseball diamond, the sheer magnitude of the stadium and consequently the entire game of baseball Ill never play this game the way it was meant to be played. But athletes are athletes are athletes and then there are organ players, organ players like Gary Presse, bald and wearing a pinky ring.

GARY PRESSE: I started out playing the organ when I was five years old, and I started professionally in 1976, 77. I was doing basketball games for DePaul, and I was doing basketball games for Loyola, and I was doing the Chicago Stings soccer games. And I had been writing to the Cubs since about 19 83, 84 about, if the position would ever open up, please give me a call, Id be interested. And so what happened was, uh, in 1986 the gentlemen who was playing here, Bruce Miles, he couldnt fulfill his obligation for three games and I filled in for him, and then the position became open in 1987on April 1st, April Foolsand thats when I got the job, and Ive been here since. AP: Since 87? GARY: Since 1987, yeah. Ill tell ya a story when I was about five, six, seven years oldno lieId be in the backyard playing baseball and humming songs, like if I was the organist. So Ive always been interested in music and sporting events. When youre a kid youre watching the Cubs everyday because they played all afternoon games at the time, and I said, boy, if the opportunity ever knocked thatd be great, so that was my ambition, to be an organist for a professional team since I wasreally young.



AP: You grew up in Chicago? GARY: Yes, I grew up in Chicago, yes. On the southside, but I was a fan of both the Cubs and Sox, at that time. Now Im just a fan of the Cubs. (laughing) And you guys from Brooklyn, I mean you guys graduated from Brooklyn, you know they used to have three teams in New York and they used to get kinda heated, between the Dodgers, the Mets, and the Yankees, so AP: Yeah, yeah. I still dont like the Yankees. GARY: Well, there you go, you see? (laughing) And a lot of people here dont like the Sox and a lot of people dont like the Cubs, but, uh we swept the Sox a few weeks ago, three straight, so that was nice. (laughing) AP: How much influence does the organist have on the performance of the team? GARY: Well, you know, I think in this ballpark, Wrigley Field, which is so traditionalWrigley Field was the first ballpark to have an organ. And they had it in 1941, just for one game, the owner wanted a treat for the fans, and then they put it in permanently in 1967. Butwhen you walk into this ballpark its a cathedral, it really istheres not many of these ballparks left. I think Fenway Park in Boston, and Dodgers Stadium would be another one, and Wrigley Field. And I thinkwe do some CDs, rock and roll musicbut lots of times its organ, and I think that when people walk in they just enjoy hearing the mellow sounds of the organ, at a ballpark, and, uh its like a day at the beachwith the infielder in the sandits unique, its very unique, because a lot of ballparks dont have organs, they just have, uh, CDs of anthems. I think half of the ballparks have organs, which is, hopefully, a dying breed coming back. JEFF: Has there been difficulty, or have you had to struggle with anything? GARY: As far as struggle traffic? (laughing) JEFF: (laughing) Sure, if thats as far as it goes.


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GARY: Well, Chicago trafficI live right on the southside, so you can bet your bottom dollar that there are days that, uhespecially with activities downtown, it takes a while to get here, it takes a while to get out. But hey, its worth it. JEFF: But I mean, just personal struggle, obstacles youve had to overcome, or decisions, impositions GARY: Well, if I can knock on wood somewhere, I have not missed a game since I started, and its like over 1,400 games JEFF: Wow.

GARY: And, God has blessed me with good talent, so I have not missed one game yet, so you want to maybe talk about the seventh inning stretch? JEFF: Yeah. So, the seventh inning stretch started GARY: Okay, the seventh inning stretch here at Wrigley Field well Harry



Carey was a legendary announcer for the Cubs and he came here in 1982 and he would lead the crowd in Take Me Out to the Ballgame, the only announcer ever to do that. And he passed away before 1998 season, so John McDonough of the marketing department came up with this great idea of having a singer each day, a different singer, be it um, an actor, be it a politician, be it a professional athlete and so they all come up and sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame in the seventh inning stretch and theyd come by me at first to rehearse, so Id get to meet different people in different areas in life. I mean, Ive met Donald Trump, Ive met Mike Ditka, whose first rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame was done, what, in a polka tempo, but I followed him. Ive met great athletes like Stan Muzio, Joel Morgan, and, of course, K.C. and the Sunshine, Kenny Rogers so, I mean that is a great, great thing and its very unique, uh, here at Wrigley Field. I dont think many ballparks still do that. I think were the only one that has a different personality per day that sings, its great. And the fans love it. SAM: What are some of the other benefits of your job? GARY: Um watching baseball. You know, and getting compensated. Believe me. I mean, Im here eighty-one days out of the year. And I think, you could talk to any of the ushers, you could talk to the security people. If theyre a baseball fan, being at Wrigley Field on a beautiful day like we are here today, and getting compensated, I mean, what else is there to ask for really? Its great. And also, being in a booth and if it rains I dont get wet. SAM: So youre here eighty-one days out of the year what do you do the rest of the year? GARY: Well we do a lot of work for the Lowry Organ Company, its sales, and demonstrations. And we have a lot of, uh, private parties that we have here at Wrigley Stadium, and so Ill play for that. AP: So is there a slump in your income, the rest of the year? GARY: No, its pretty steady, pretty steady. Thank God... (laughing) You want to, maybe, talk about the great moments Ive seen? Or...


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AP: Sure. GARY: No, I know this is not gonna bethis part, but okay, so you could maybe ask what the great moments that Ive seen. AP: What are some of the greatest moments that youve experienced? GARY: Thats a good question well, being here since 1987, the first season I was here Andre Dawson had a MVP season but the Cubs finished last. Two years later we won our division, the eastern division, and we got to the playoffs, that was a highlight. Playing the organ for the 1990 all-star game, whichthey rotate the all-star game between all stadiums so thats maybe another twenty-five years, you know, from then, so that was in 1990, that was a thrill. The 1998 season when Sosa hit sixtysix homeruns and the Cubs won a wild card play-off game to get to the playoffs, that was a thrill. And of course last year, 2003, when the Cubs surprised everybody and got to the, uh, National League Championships Series, within five outs of getting to the World Series, something that has not happened since 1945, and then unfortunately, we had a sad ending. AP: So, the Cubs arent necessarily known for their winning streaks. GARY: Well, like Jack Brickhouse, the venerable announcer, would say, anything could have a bad century, but actually the Cubs have not made the World Series since 1945 and they havent won the World Series since 1908. So, were creeping up on a hundred years, and so we have to change that.




ve been reading The New York Times almost everyday, stealing it from Starbucks almost everyday, reading the Names of the Dead almost everyday, three, sometimes five names everyday, everyday reading about the war in Iraq and how there were never any weapons of mass destruction, not a single connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and what the fuck happened with Afghanistan? Why isnt that in the paper any more? The Department of Defense has identified 895 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the death of the following Americans:
FRANK, Craig S., 24, Specialist, Army National Guard; Lincoln Park, Mich.; 1775th Military Police Company. HARTMAN, David A., 41, Sgt. First Class, Army Reserve; Akron, Mich.; 401st Transportation Company KELLY, Bryan P., 21, Lance Cpl., Marines; Klamath, Ore.; First Marine Division.


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Young American soldiers die everyday in Iraq. Civilians die everyday in Iraq. This is an unjust war in a time of American Empire. When the former president of the SDS and founder and leader of The Weather Underground doesnt know what to do, has no suggestions for a struggle to stop this violently developing empire, are we completely lost? Id like to be optimistic, hopeful, like those who pioneered the anti-war movement during Vietnam but This Time is not That Time and These Wars are not Those Wars and what are we supposed to do? What am I supposed to do?

Meanwhile, Linda Ronstadt is thrown out of the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas after a performance in which she dedicated the song Desperado to Michael Moore. A statement by a spokesman for the Aladdin said that Ms. Ronstadt was escorted out of the hotel after her performance and that she would not be welcomed back. Ms. Ronstadt, the casino spokesman said, was hired to entertain the guests of the Aladdin, not to espouse political views.

This country becomes more and more polarized each day and I fear weve lost already. What happens when the administration postpones the election because of intelligence of an impending terrorist attack? It is our privilege and our right to fight this thieving administration, this rising empire. Not in our name. Not on my watch. This is not my empire. How does one slay an invisible octopus?




uring our first day at Sams parents house a reporter from The Jewish News called and interviewed Sam over the telephone. That same afternoon the paper sent a photographer to the house. Sams mother stood over the three of usSam, me, the photographerand made chit-chat about photography, specifically Sams photography, and how one gets a job as a photographer. Did you get your job through your temple? Sams mother asks the photographer. Im not Jewish.

The last time I was at Sams house in Michigan was the summer of 2001 when I flew out to meet her and then drive back with her to New York in


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her Grand Cherokee. That was when we loved each other, Sam says. That summer during the few days I stayed with her at her parents house we went out for extravagant meals, drank expensive alcohol, and had sex in her pool while her dog watched through the window of the living room. That summer was difficult for both of us and took its toll on our relationship, possibly even the beginning of the end for us even though we continued to date on and off for years to come. This time around, we had no problems, there was no difficulty in our relationship, our friendship. We swam playfully in the pool with the rest of the roadtrippers and Sams friends and cousins who came by for BBQ ribs. As always, Sams mother and father were more than kind and generous while we stayed there. We ate, watched television, a few movies, and surfed the internet while Sam cuddled her dog on the floor. It was fun to see Sam at her parents house, her childhood home, so comfortable and relaxed, carefree. It made me miss the good old days.



The Secret Service agent stationed directly in front of me at the edge of the press corral seems depressed. But hes friendly enough, and enjoying a teasing chat with me, the dreadlocked, bearded youngster who, through some unknown means, got into the National Urban League annual convention and whats more, hes in the banquet room waiting for President Bush who will be speaking shortly. Is George here yet? I ask the SS agent. I mean, is he in the building? You know Im not going to answer that question, he says, thinly smiling. Its a secret. Mike Marriner laughs and asks if Im feeling paranoid. Just because youre paranoid doesnt mean theyre not out to get you, I say. The Secret Service agent laughs and leans towards me. Do you have a cell phone? he asks. Yeah. The agent nods with eyebrow raised as if to imply that I should feel paranoid. Where the fuck are we?


ecurity is as expected at the convention center. Outside, the Secret Service has everyone line up a dozen at a time, placing their bags and briefcases at their feet while a pair of bomb-sniffing dogs strut down the line. Then theres an initial metal detector screening followed by another perimeter of more of the same outside the banquet hall. The video cameras had to be screened by specialized Secret Service members at a separate security station. And glass bottles or newspapers were not allowed inside. That morning, the cover of The Detroit Free Press read, We Are Not


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Safe. But somehow or another we got inside the banquet room and joined about 800 or 1,000 of the most prominent African American men and women in this country. Although most of the press was white. And thats where we sat. How can I get one of those buttons? I ask our friend, the Secret Service agent. One of these? he says, pointing to the SS button on his lapel. You cant. Oh, I say. Okay. The banquet hall carpeting is red and gold. Every single available light is on. A disturbance in the crowd occurs near the entryway. But it isnt a security threat, just Reverend Jesse Jackson. He shakes hands and smiles wildly as his entourage scuttles around lining up all the wives of the NUL leaders to meet him. I wouldnt mind meeting J.J., I say. The Secret Service agent chuckles. Most of the crowd has assembled and hundreds of well-dressed



African Americans are taking their seats. The stage houses only a podium and is flanked by a half-dozen Secret Service agents holding their hands against their foreheads to shield their eyes from the stage lights. The area closest to the stage is saved for only the most respected journalists, then the public and invited NUL members, then theres the rest of us. Im probably forty yards from the stage. I watch a Secret Service agent walk across the stage and affix the Presidential Seal to the front of the podium. It wont be long now. Another commotion erupts in the crowd. And this time its not Jesse Jackson. No, this time its another reverend, a reverend Ive fought to meet for months. Only now do I finally see the man himself, Mr. Al Sharpton. Sharpton walks closer and closer to where Im stationed and I get ready to jump out the corral and grab him or trip him or bite him but I think better of it and as he approaches, getting closer, still closer, I prepare myself for a verbal attack. As soon as hes within arms length, I strike. I grab his hand and start shaking, never letting go, saying, Al, Andrew Smith here from Roadtrip Nation, we had scheduled an interview with you and then you cancelled and then rescheduled and canceled again and well I was just wondering how serious youre taking your presidential campaign if you feel like you can blow off an interview for PBS? Oh, yeah, I remember, he says, looking for a way out, trying to pull his hand out of my death grip. I remember, I remember, its great to see you here today. I wasnt letting go. Right, so Al, what do you think Bush is going to say to the National Urban League? Well, Al said, still pulling away from me. I think he has a lot of explaining to do, doesnt he? That makes two of you, I say, releasing my grip, causing him to stumble backwards into a cluster of journalists holding pens and pads and microphones and video cameras. Pushing off the journalists Al glares at me with nostrils flared. He makes a move towards me so quickly I flinch and stand at the ready. Would he swing at me? No, he just casually moved through the crowd without looking back. I keep my eyes on him as he makes his way to his seat, a good seat up front, rows and rows ahead of Jesse Jackson. Soon after, a calm hush permeated through the audience and the


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whole world seemed still and patient. The atmosphere was one of respect and consideration, but that vibe can often be misinterpreted. Sometimes the seeming reverence of a crowd is nothing short of a mob caught silent with rage. These people are not waiting patiently. Theyre teething and clenching and tense, like large wild cats ready to pounce. None of these cats are Republicans. Okay, maybe the really wealthy ones are. Even still, how many support Bush? Next to none. The room is full of black people. Black Republicans are like aliens from outer space: they may walk freely among us, but Ive never seen one. Not in that banquet room. Not ever. I could hear myself breathing.

*** The Official National Urban League Reverend took the stage and, calling the audience to assembly, he offered a prayer for the strength and wisdom of our President.



The crowd responded with a resounding, Amen. Then the President of the National Urban League walked to the podium and gave a speech, something like an award acceptance speech. He thanked President Bush for coming to speak as is the tradition of the NUL since Eisenhower. Then he thanked Senator Kerry for speaking yesterday. And he said a few words about the Urban League and this wonderful nation-wide convention because, the African American community is the fabric of our nation. Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of The United States. Everyone jumped to their feet applauding.. They were applauding before Pomp and Circumstance started playing. Bush walked briskly across the stage, shook hands quickly with the NUL President, and grabbed the podium. The crowd immediately stopped clapping and sat the fuck down. Lets see what this guy has to say. Bush doesnt even know why hes here. And hes scared shitless. Hell, Im freaking out too. I want to scream, I want to scream out, Hey, asshole! Where the fuck are the weapons of mass destruction? My heart is pounding. Im almost ready to yell and the fear grips me. Who am I kidding? Theyd have me on the ground after the first syllable. And then Id spend the rest of my life in prison as an enemy combatant. Thank you for having me here today, Bush says. Thank you for your prayer, Reverend. And thank you, Mr. President of the National Urban League. Thank you, Reverend Jesse. And Al thank you for your effort. Its not easy running for President is it, Al? The heads of the audience turn sharply to Al and the stoic Reverend says, No. But I appreciate you throwing your hat in the ring, Bush says. The crowd gasps and someone whispers, oh no he didnt. It aint over, Al says. Then repeats himself: It Aint Over Bush smiles through it and starts reading off the teleprompter. He says the entrepreneurial spirit is flat at best and that we need to spend, save, and invest. He says we should encourage heterosexual marriage; the crowd obligatorily applauds. He says the economy is growing, jobs are being created, the economy is stronger, the economy, and trade policy, and economics. The audience applauds. Then Bush talks about literacy and education and progress and how to get you minorities off the streets and increased Pell Grants and


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Missour-AH and the entrepreneurial spirit and local business and those barbershops yall have and The Great Promise of America and The Racial Profiling Ban and community centers and faith-based program funding and foreign policy and how no security is perfect and that those sandniggers attacked us because of our freedom to worship. Amen! someone yells out but everyone else in the room is silent and blank-faced. No one moves. The banquet hall is silent. Bush smiles through it. We must have justice, Bush says. Before the enemy strikes again. No one applauds. Bush is flustered. I watch his ears turn red and I feel a tingling in my privates. He is going down. This crowd wants his blood. Did someone just scream? Bush chuckles, saying, Now I know the Republican Party has work to do. The audience claps and whistles like rabid sports fans. But let me ask you this, says Bush. The crowd listens. Does the Democratic party take the African-American vote for granted? Do the Democrats assume they have your vote? Do they earn your vote? Do they even deserve your vote? Ive come here today to ask for your vote, for the African-American vote. Thank you. Four people applauded. *** Bush made his way around the stage and shook hands with some of the more prominent black men in the room including Al Sharpton. They shook hands for a moment and it was obvious Al was talking some shit. But what I still wonder is if he used the steel-grip shake I used on him just before the speech. Before we left the room I made sure to cross paths with The Rev one more time. And I did but he didnt offer me his hand and in fact just kept walking without once looking at me. I just kept talking, made mention of how the President made a fool of him in front of his only peer group and what he thought his slim chances at the presidency were and why more black men didnt run for President Why dont more women run for President? he snaps.



I let him go. That was enough for one day. Leaving The Radisson Hotel, headed for lunch in Greek Town, Mike and Chuck aimed their cameras as Jeff while they walked backwards in front of him. They asked him what he thought of the speech. They werent interested in what they only imagined I would say. I should have screamed. Next time. Oh, what is this? Jeff says. I look up and in the distance I see what first looks like a Smurf rolling towards us no. Its a fat woman wearing a blue shirt riding an electrical fat woman cart. She drives up to us. Her shirt is reads Kerry/ Edwards and campaign signs lie flat across her lap under her hands at the wheel. Were you at the demonstration? No, I say. We were inside for Bushs speech to the negros. Well aint that special? says the fat, crippled Kerry supporter.


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anada is so refreshing on this third week of the trip. At least the road signs are different. The speed limit seems higher here. The air thinner. The buildings lower. Ontario, land of the Canadians, the metric system, and away from Bush. I now know that one mile is 1.6 kilometers. I wish I could say my grandfather taught me that. But this isnt really Canada. Not Canada like Canada Canada. This is just Niagara Falls. I could piss on America from here. My friends in Buffalo drive to Canada sometimes nightly and some friends of friends I know live in Buffalo, NY and work in Niagara Falls, Ontario. What an obscene town this is.



The last time I was here was with my parents after graduationwe came up and stayed the night at a casinoand that afternoon my dad and I hit the liquor store and I asked the clerk if there were any fun bars in the area. He looked at me like I was crazy. The girls in line behind me were scared. Not really, no, one girl said. Youll get stabbed, said the other girl. Yeah! some dude yelled on his way out of the store. Come on out and see what happens. Come see what happens!

So this time around, like the time before that, I promised to steer clear of the bar scene. Most of the bars were on the main drag anyway. And they werent really bars more like discothques. That main drag, Falls Avenue I think, reminded me of International Boulevard in Orlando, Florida. Giant cartoon super heroes and wrestlers climb the building next to Ripleys Believe It Or Not, which is getting eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Three haunted houses can be found on Falls Avenue. Three wax museums. Dozens of themed restaurants. Falls Avenue is the worst strip of America in what is actually the eroding edge of Canada.

Technically speaking, Niagara Falls is comprised of three separate minifalls. Theres the American Falls between Prospect Point and Luna Island, theres the Bridal Veil Falls between Luna Island and Goat Island, and then the big daddy of them all, the Canadian Falls, also known as the Horseshoe Falls. If you look closely at the map, about one-third of the so-called Canadian Falls lies within U.S. territory. But anyway. 176 feet high. 150,000 gallons per second. 12,000,000 tourists every year. And the lights sure are pretty when they turn them on at night. Its strange to me that we live in a world where nature is commodified and people honeymoon nearby because its tradition. Maybe Im a being a little short-sighted here but for me all that natural beauty and phenomena is overshadowed by the lines of statehood, gambling, rampant tourism,


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pay toilets, and gift shops. I stood outside gift shops smoking cigarettes while Sam browsed inside. Every three minutestheres really no need to exaggerate this every three minutes someone asked me if I had any pot. Or weed. Or herb. Or trees. I bitch about the dreadlock stigmatism to Sam as we walk back to the RV. So cut your hair, Sam tells me.

One more little bit about Niagara Falls: the strip clubs are amazing. When I was here after graduation my friend Blake who lived in Niagara Falls, New York drove over the border and met me at the hotel. In the elevator we made plans to find a strip club because I had been gambling all day and I won a little bit of money. In the lobby we asked the desk clerk, some kid about our age, if there were any good strip clubs in the area. Sure, theres Wild Willys just up the road here, he said. Thanks, we said. Wait, he said. If you really want a good time go to Seductions. Dear reader, heed that advice.




n the middle of the field is a village or royal colony near a cultivated mountain. Christians call this place Montreal. Almost entirely French-speaking, this town seems at first like nirvana; jazz fills the cobblestone alleys and even Chinatown has its appeal. The homeless and retarded loiter on the outskirts on Chinatown, where they belong. And Italian nuns ride public buses. A two and a half liter keg bong on a table in touristy Old Montreal Saint Laurent: where all the tattoo artists and club goers, owners, magazine shops, near the University where almost everyone speaks English and uses words like fuck and my uncle.


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Beautiful women, waitresses happy to chat but perhaps, no definitely, secretly hating your homeland, homeland security. Not knowing the name of Canadas new Prime Minister, looking like twenty, but probably closer to thirty and ready for dinner before hitting the clubs. I want nothing more than to make love to you for a few weeks while you teach me French.

Parlez vous Francais? No. May I ask you something without bothering you? Sure. You smoke weed? No. Never? Well no, yes, yes I have. I have the best Im not interested.

We went to a few art museums, hit a couple of bars, wandered around town, but mostly just kept a low profile.




t the border, coming in from Canada, when the patrolman asked Chuck if we had receipts for our cameras to prove we didnt buy them in Canada to evade sales tax, Chuck flippantly replied, How do you know we didnt buy the whole RV in Canada? So we pulled over and sat in the waiting room while patrolmen searched the RV. The waiting room was filled with Muslims or otherwise darkskinned males and females arguing with the patrolmen over the silliest little details. It wasnt much of a security procedure, more like security at the airport: just a scare tactic. We want you to feel like were doing something so were going to keep you here for a few hours and ask all sorts of irrelevant questions. I felt sorry for the people being detained. Out


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the window I could see patrolmen ripping out the backseat of someones car. In less than twenty minutes the patrolmen were finished with our RV and we were allowed to leave. That was quick, I said. Wouldve been quicker if you didnt look like the Taliban, Chuck told me. Or if you hadnt been an asshole to the patrolman, I replied. Guys, Jeff said. At least were not brown. MOOSE next 5000 ft. Bathed in Lake Champlain this morning. It was cold, a good cold, the kind of cold that shocks the body, heals the heart, and stills the mind. Vermont even smells green, smells like abundant growth and life and living things that arent human, like animals and insects. I suppose Vermont has more to offer than Burlington, but Burlington doesnt offer much.

Medford Boston

7 11



My father was a brewmaster, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great-great grandfather, my great-great-great grandfather, they were all brewmasters, and I actually had my first beer at four I dont know why I had to wait so long, my parents were very strict. - Jim Koch


hat morning Mike Marriner made me promise not to get drunk during the interview. I promised as we drove through Boston towards the Samuel Adams Brewery. When we arrived, met Jim, and were settled, the first thing Jim did was have himself a beer. Does anyone want to join me? he asked. Everyone said no. I looked at Mike for an approval but received none. Come on, Jim said. Youre not going to make me drink alone, are


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you? No, Im not, I said. Ill have a beer. This was all before nine in the morning. But when the founder of Samuel Adams Brewing Company asks you to join him for a beer, you say yes.

AP: Ok, were ready? So, we all went to Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, and Jeff and I just graduated in May and Sam has one more year. And weve been given this opportunity to drive around this country in a motor home, to interview people from all walks of life, people who have been visionaries in their field, people we admire. Were at the place where were not exactly sure where our path is, and where were gonna go, and so, um wed like to talk to you about where you were when you were twenty-something years old, and just out of school, and how those passions and ideas brought you to where you are today. JIM KOCH: Thats a good question I sort of remember being at your stage. I went to college and then I went to law school and business school immediately thereafter. And I had done a year of law school and a year of business school, I was about twenty-four years old, and it dawned on me that it was getting to the point where I was going to need to make a career decision soon, and I felt totally unprepared to do that because I had never done anything but go to school my whole life, and so I had had a womb with a view, (laughing) and it was a nice view, but it was still a womb, and I felt, I shouldnt make my career decisions until Ive done those things, so I actually dropped out of school, dropped out of law school, dropped out of business school, and was gone for three and a half years, and in that time I certainly thought about what I was going to do, I spent a lot of time out doors, I was an Outward Bound instructor, and worked for Outward Bound for several years, and it was a great experience, it was the kind of experience you can only have in your twenties, and what occurred to me, as I was doing this, was this is something I want to do, in my life, you know, I want to climb, I want to do mountaineering, kayaking, things like that, and if I wait and dont do it now, Ill probably never do it. So Im going to use my twenties for what theyre best for, which is: screw around, try lots of things, have experiences that I know I wont be able to have when I have a family and a job and kids, so I had a fairly prolonged, almostadolescence, if you



will. I laugh now, because I was almost twenty-nine years old before I got my first five-figure job, you know (laughing), people today think youre a failure if theyre out of their twenties and they dont have a sixfigure job; I was excited to get to a five-figure job at the age of twentynine. I realized this didnt have a forty-year future, and at that point, I decided to go back to school, and I finished my J.D. and I finished my M.B.A. and finally graduated at the age of twenty-nine and I had the interesting experience of going to my fifth year reunion for my Harvard MBA class, and people were asking me, Jim, what are you doing these days? And I said, well, actually, Im graduating next week! (laughing) AP: Well, so where did you go after school? What was the next step? JIM: When I graduated I went to a consulting firm here in Boston called Boston Consulting Group, and I was there for almost seven years. And it was a great experience, because you got to advise, and work with, and see your management, and these big companies, it was a great job, you made a lot of money, you flew all around the country, you flew first class, you had a nice office, you were billing people a lot of money so they treated you really well, they didnt waste your time and you got to deal with these big problems that senior managers at big companies needed help on; it was a great job, but again, after five or six years, I started asking myself: Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life, is this my last job, is this it? Andthat was a scary thought, I didnt know. If Im gonna be doing this in fifteen years, then Im not gonna be happy with, uh, you know, how I lived my life and it made me really think about, what do I really want? And by that time I was in my mid-30s, and Id had a lot of experiences in business, and Id learned a lot at Outward Bound, Id learned a lot about leadership, and self-reliance, and challenging yourself, andthe Outward Bound paradigm, the essential experience is probably encapsulated in rappelling, in walking off a cliff backwards, and as an instructor what youve got to get people to do is to have enough faith in themselves, and the people in their control, that they will actually walk off a cliff, backwards. Now, and as an instructor you know theres a lot of rope, and that that rope would probably hold a car, and you know, youre belaying them down, and you have climbing partners and belays, and help falls, and you knoweverything is safe, solid and secure, butto the Outward Bound student, they are walking off a cliff backwards. And there is something that I learned, which is something that climbers talk


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about, which is the difference between perceived risk and actual risk, um and, a lot of times were driven and limited by perceived risk, and thats very unrelated to the actual risk. Those, those kids in my patrols who would walk off a cliff backwards and it would scare the crap out of them especially those first couple of seconds when you lean back and there is nothing underneath you at all, but thin air down a hundred feet, and sharp rocks at the bottom, and thats very high perceived risk, but the actual risk is negligible. And when I left the consulting firm to start Boston Beer Company, it was in a lot of ways, the same situation: the perceived risk was high, I was walking off the cliff backwards, there was nothing beneath meI had this high paying job, great office, on the thirtythird floor, looking down over Boston Harbor, you know nice furniture, beautiful place, and one day, I got in the elevator and rode the elevator down, and all of it sudden it all disappeared and it wasI was a brewer and a beer salesman, and that seems to be... people said, gee, you took a lot of risk. Well, the reality was, that probably wasnt true; the big risk would have been staying at a job that wasnt fulfilling and wasting my life. Thats a risk, you know. Quitting to do something I really loved and believed in, thats not a risk. JEFF: So how did the idea come to you that this was what you wanted to do? JIM: Well, theres another, sort of, thread in my background, which is unique, actually: Im the only sixth generation brewmaster in the United States. Every oldest son in my family for six generations has been a brewmaster here in the United States. So I grew up around beer. My father was a brewmaster, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great-great grandfather, my great-great-great grandfather, they were all brewmasters, and I actually had my first beer at fourI dont know why I had to wait so long, my parents were very strict. Ive always enjoyed beer, and in retrospect, theres some irony in that, you know... I got three degrees from Harvard, and yet, my biggest job qualification is I love beer! (laughing) SAM: So were your parents encourage with Outward Bound, or going back to school, or were they more like, when are you gonna become a brewmaster?



JIM: No, no my parents didnt want me to go into the business, because when my father got into brewmaster school, in 1948, there were about 1,200 breweries in the United States, and by and large they were all doing well. When I started Sam Adams, twenty years ago, that 1,200 was down to about thirty, so all those jobs for brewmasters went away. 97% of brewmasters jobs had disappeared. That was not a good career decision, so my parents were thrilled that Id gotten into Harvard, that I got a degree from Harvard, I actually got three degrees from Harvard, they thought that was really cool, the last thing they wanted me to do was go into brewing. I remember my dad said, Look, Jimmy, it took us 150 years for us to get the smell of a brewery out of our clothes, I dont want you going back into that. AP: Did you start with the recipe and then decide to start a company or was it the other way around? JIM: When I started Sam Adams I knew that we had a treasure trove of family recipies that went back to the 19th century. And after my father got over the shock that I was going to quit this fancy high paying job to go make beer, he took me up to the attic where he gave me the notes from brewing school and a bunch of old family recipes. He gave me the recipe from my great-great-grandfathers brewery and he had made that beer in 1950 and he said, this is a great beer, and I noticed that he had made it thirty-five years before that. I said, you made it, what happened. He said the owner of the brewery said, People dont want to beer with this flavor. They want water that will hold a head, thats what I want you to make. He had to dump the batch. JEFF: So when you were getting your MBA and law degree did you image yourself becoming this artisan, historian? Were those facets of your personality something you had or something that you grew into? JIM: I have to tell you the truth. Getting an MBA and a law degree is not about developing more facets of your personality. Unfortunately that kind of professional training is about stripping them away and peeling them off. That kind of education but socialization processes with the objective in effect of focusing you and what that means is narrowing the facets of your personality that get brought into play. So that was one of the reasons I dropped out of business school and law school. Because I


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didnt feel ready to focus that much and so by the time I actually graduated at twenty-nine I had enough strength of character to resist that kind of socialization process. JEFF: Have you always been interested in history? JIM: When I was in high school as a junior my teacher taught us about the American revolution. She brought up this forgotten figure who was one of the principal figures of the founding of this country and his name was Sam Adams. He had a brewery on King Street. After the revolution succeeded it became State Street. So Sam Adams was not only a brewer, but a revolutionary. We forget because the founding fathers have become so institutionalized but that was a revolution when the British marched on Lexington and Concord. They were going out there to find Sam Adams and John Hancock to hang them as traitors. They were real revolutionaries. AP: So going back to the history of beer, and American history, what do you think is the future of beer? JIM: I think that some day beer will have the same respect and dignity and nobility that is courted to wine because as a brewer I know that beer is a more complex beverage than wine. It has more flavors. And theres an lot more variety of beer. For wine, you get grape juice, put yeast in it, and thats about it. A brewer actually gets to construct their beer. Theres a lot more creativity and art that goes into making beer. And at the end of the day, beer is a lot more accessible. Its something that everyone can afford. For only five or six bucks you can get six bottles of some of the best beer in the world. At wine tastings they spit, at beer tastings you swallow, so what does that tell you? JEFF: For all the new brews, did you add to the original recipe or are they totally new? JIM: All the beers that weve made since Sam Adams lager are totally new recipes. They are different styles of beer but they adhere to the same brewing principles that we had since day one. We use only the classic brewing ingredients: water, yeast, malt, and hops. And then well add spices or things that are part of brewing history. Like Sam Adams



Summer Ale we used this ingredient that has this really cool name. I found it in a book of medieval recipes and it was used in beer before hops became the principal spice. One of them was called Grains of Paradise, and I thought wow, what in the world are Grains of Paradise? And in the footnotes it said once considered an aphrodisiac; hence the name. So obviously I had to get my hands on some of this medieval Viagra. And it turns out it was wonderful spice sort of lost in history. It was discovered by the Portuguese exploring the coast of western Africa. It was an orchid like member of the pepper family. And it has this wonderful, wonderful smell. And so we started using the Grains of Paradise. Thats part of our tradition, of bringing back these historic ingredients in brewing practices. Samuel Adams Utopias AP: So when did you start trying to make beers other than the Boston ale? JIM: Any good beer drinker always wants another beer. So as a brewer I have the same restless dissatisfaction with the status quo. So the recipe for Sam Adams was given to me. All I did was go out and brew it. I wanted to make my own beers and leave my own mark on the world of brewing. So over the last twenty years Ive probably made twenty or thirty different beers, some only for a little while and others like Boston Ale and Octoberfest, Winter Lager, and probably the most astonishing beer in the world is a beer called Samuel Adams Utopias. It is fifty-one proof. It is the strongest naturally fermented beer ever made in the 6,000 years of brewing history. Its like the Star Trek of beer. It takes beer where no beer has gone before. It takes beer into the realms of vintage port or vintage sherry or fine cognac, in fact the Wine and Spirits Journal gave it the highest rating possible for cognacs and said this is better than virtually all the cognacs out there. For me taking beer where no brewer has ever gone is part of what I wanted to bring into brewing history. And a hundred, a thousand years from now people will say, There was this guy in Boston that made this extraordinary stuff that we still make today.


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eaving incestuous Vermont, Ive accepted that I am deep in the throes of an identity crisis. Lost somewhere in these green, bushy hills is a sincere thought, an opinion I dont second-guess. Or maybe I lost it much earlier than now, maybe back in Detroit or somewhere along the Missouri River. Now Sam and Jeff play spades as the RV follows an exit ramp to who knows where. Maybe lunch. It is two oclock. At this rate well make it to Boston just before nightfall. The last time I was in Boston was around Thanksgiving for Phishs twentieth anniversary concert and that was at the Fleet Center too. That was after the Albany show, after skipping the Philadelphia show, after taking my father to the Long Island show where my friend Leah found a vial of white powder on the bathroom floor and I tested it out to prove it was coke and we blew the whole thing before the encore.



We arrived in Boston and parked the RV somewhere in Cambridge. Then we took the red line to Central Square where we found this Communistthemed dive bar. All sorts of Red propaganda hung from the ceiling and the crowd was appropriately good-looking and collegiate. The television aired the Boston Red Sox game and I politely asked the bartender if we could watch Senator Edwards speech live from the convention. After the game, said the bartender. I looked at the television. Ninth inning. Boston down by four. Ridiculous.


he next morning we drove to Starbucks for breakfast. What do you guys want to do today? Mike Marriner asked. Im going to the convention, I said. Youre not gonna get a ticket, Sam said. Yes I am. No youre not. Yes I am. Okay, okay, interrupted Mike Marriner. Ill go with you, Andy, and get some footage and you three can do whatever you like. How do you expect to get a ticket? Sam persisted. Im gonna ask for one, I said, looking around the crowded Starbucks. I watched a prominent-looking woman enter with a pair of


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young hopefuls as her wingmen. She wore a starched blue suit and took a seat at the table next to me while her interns ordered coffee. Hello, I said. Hello, she said. My name is Andrew and Im on a roadtrip documentary for PBS and Id love to get to the convention today, I dont suppose you have an extra ticket? She looked at me incredulously. And said nothing. Excuse me, hello? I said. Well, she said. Who do you know? What? Who do you know? Who do you know? I know you, I said. You dont know me. Well, you know me. I dont know you, she said and her entourage joined her with the coffee and she stood to leave. Its all who you know, she said, walking out. Bitch, I said to myself. Mike Marriner was red in the face. Do you know who that was? he asked me. No, who was it? That was Kathleen Kennedy, John F. Kennedys daughter! No shit? Yeah, he said. I cant believe you just talked to her like that. You should have asked her for an interview. Whatever, she was a bitch, I said. Who do you know? I scoffed. Youll never get in, Sam insisted. Youre just gonna get yourself in trouble. Oh, Im getting into that convention, I said. Its a fucking mission now. 1300 hrs. Mike Marriner and I step out of the subway and make our way with the crowd through a line of armed Military Police. Everyone has badges and press IDs and all manner of insignias: hard plastic proof that they indeed belong here, either press or representative or delegate or else. Mike and I have an expensive-looking video camera. And that should count for



something. Or so we hoped. Mike had a few contacts; he knew a some people and we spent a moment on a park bench making cellphone calls. PBS, CNN, et al; Mike called and everyone said the same thing: Its a little late for this. It is the last day of the convention, Mike told me. Maybe we should just walk around and get some footage, some B-roll. Were getting in, Mike. 1400 hrs. Weve arrived upon the Freedom Trail. This is the protest-zone. This is Americas first amendment caged in and isolated like the last of a rare species. But really, were in a cage. The DNC and the city of Boston were kind enough to give the American people a fenced in area of maybe fifty square yards to protest the Democratic National Convention. The generosity was well-received. And the writing was on the wall: Flee the Pen. This is Democracy. Who Would Jesus Bomb? FUCK THE PEN. FLEE THE PEN. As soldiers watched from their perches on rooftops a fat, sweaty man with a pony-tail delivered a speech to a sparse audience lining the walls of the cage. He spoke mostly about anarchy and the terrors of a twoparty system. No one applauded. Not once. Everyone seemed to be there for the same reasons I was there: what the fuck is this all about? It was the most curious spectacle Ive ever seen. And we all stood there with our arms crossed desperately trying to understand exactly what it was we were a part of. This is really creepy, Mike said, aiming the camera at my face. We need to get the fuck out of here, I said. 1440 hrs. Were lost. We started walking around the perimeter of the convention and found ourselves circling the same city block two or three times. Were getting nowhere. We crossed paths with the green Nader For President van a few times too many. You could hear the van coming around the


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corner as the driver spoke over a megaphone speaker. Nader for 2004. Vote Nader. Nader for 2004. But that last time, when the Nader van turned left, Mike Marriner and I turned right and soon we made it to the other side of the perimeter and I asked a cop where press registration was and he directed us to a building around the corner. Outside the building Military Police stood with M-16s at the ready. We entered and immediately a Secret Service man asked if he could help us. Were here to pick up our press credentials, I told him. Were with PBS. The SS man directed us to a room where a woman and a man sat at a desk and I told them our names and they said we werent on the list and the SS man volunteered to escort us out the building. Outside with the MPs, I said, That didnt go so well. Mike turned on the camera and aimed it at me. Can you say that again? Lets go, I said. 1510 hrs. Loitering near the gates into the perimeter around Bostons Fleet Center, Mike sits on the curb and makes some phone calls while I chain-smoke, casing the joint. Three layers of police, SS men, and armed MPs, each one checking for that large, rectangular ticket. Some tickets are purple and some are green, but I cant figure out what the difference is. Everyone entering the gates looks the same: business suit, kinda fat, white, male. I was wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans. Suddenly, I realize Im standing next to Andre 3000 of Outkast. He apparently had just stepped out of the caf behind me. He wore a plaid suit, hat, and was chewing on a toothpick. Yo, Andre, I said. You dont have an extra ticket do you? He smiled, moving his toothpick from side to side. No, he said. Not for you. Then his entourage stepped out the caf and the group of them entered the perimeter gates. That was Outkast, Mike tells me from the curb. Yup, I say. Did you ask him if we could interview him?



1539 hrs. We had stayed in one place a little too long. I could feel the eyes of the security rabble beginning to recognize me. We needed to move. Mike, lets go, I said. This isnt going to work. We walked back around the block, past the press building, then realized we were heading the wrong direction, turned back, walked past the press building again, and found ourselves exactly where we had been loitering. Listen, I said. We should go back that way. Okay, Mike said, shooting a group of delegates entering the gates. Im gonna stay here and shoot some B-roll, meet me back here. Alright, I said, setting off on my own. I made my way just half a block from the gates and two tall, Secret Service men wearing sunglasses and ear-pieces stepped into my path. Come with us, please, said one. What? I said, taking a step backwards. You need to come with us, said the other. I looked over my shoulder thinking of running but two feet behind


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me stood a pair of Military Police holding M-16s. You need to go with them, said one of the MPs. They lead me through a gate on the side of the perimeter into another gated area and then around a corner into a third chain-linked fenced-in pen only about ten feet by ten feet. The MPs stood outside the cage but the SS men entered with me. What are you doing here? asked the SS man. Im here for the convention. Do you have a ticket? asked the other one. No, but So what are you doing here if you dont have a ticket? Im just If you dont have a ticket, you cant be here. Im here working for PBS, my cameraman is I need to see some identification, said the SS agent. Okay, I said, reaching in my back pocket. The MPs raised their weapons and pointed them at me. Whoa! Whoa! Just give us the ID, said the agent. Okay, okay, here, I said pulling out my wallet and handing him my Military ID. He looked at it for half a second and handed it back to me saying, Thats expired. I was worried. My trump card didnt work. And Ive never had M16s pointed at me. These guys were good, real good, and I was scared shitless. A helicopter arrived and hovered loudly directly above us. Just give us your wallet, demanded the SS agent. I handed him my wallet and then they both put a finger to their earpieces. And they listened. Then the SS men pulled their fingers out their ears, and the one man sifted through my wallet handing bankcards and ATM receipts to the other man. Then he pulled out the White House Press pass I acquired at the National Urban League Convention. Why do you have this? he asked. Because they gave it to me, I said. Who gave it to you? The Urban League people, when we went and Why did they give it to you? I dont know, I think You dont know why you have this?



No, I know why This isnt something you should have, he said. No, you really shouldnt have this, said the other. This here your drivers license? he asked. Yes, sir. He handed my drivers license through the fence to one of the MPs who promptly relayed my information into his walkie-talkie. Ten-four, squawked the walkie-talkie. Ever been arrested before? the SS man asked me. No, sir. What is it that makes you think you belong here? Why were you at the press building? What were you doing near the south entrance? Sir, said the MP handing back my license. The cameraman is here. The SS men stood staring at me and in their sunglasses I faced a reflection of myself in a cage. The hovering helicopter moved on and the air settled down. You need to go home, said the Secret Service man. We know what you look like. We dont want to see you again. Go home. And they followed me out of the cage, through the inner perimeters, and back to the gate they brought me through where Mike Marriner was standing, holding the camera at his side. What happened? he asked. We need to leave, I said. We need to leave now. 1645 hrs. The Green Dragon Tavern. Inside, Mike and I are drinking. Its one of the oldest pubs in Boston. Established in 1657, The Green Dragon Tavern functioned as a meeting place for Boston Revolutionaries and was considered the headquarters of the Revolution by Paul Revere, Daniel Webster, and Samuel Adams. Mike and I drank. You just disappeared on me, Mike said. I gulped my beer. You have no idea, I said. Well, I figure well go meet up with the others now, right? he


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asked. I gulped the rest of my beer. Im going to the convention. After what happened? Mike said. You cant go back there. No way. I have to, I said, motioning to the waitress for another beer. But you cant, you just cant. I have to, Mike, I said. Ill be fine. The waitress brought me another beer. I gulped it down. I just need to rest for a moment, I said. Then Im going to that convention. 1730 hrs. Alone, back at the perimeter walls, I asked everyone who walked past for a ticket. Most pretended not to hear me. Some said sorry, some said good luck, but most said nothing at all. 1750 hrs. Still nothing. But more and more people are arriving. Through the crowd I see a trio of SS men watching me. 1800 hrs. A pair of AFL-CIO unionists tell me theyll sell me their tickets if they dont hear back from their friends. But dont worry, one says. Well remember you. Yeah, well come find you if we dont hear from them. 1810 hrs. I found the protesters. The ones who fled the pen. Theres maybe one hundred of them chanting, facing a wall of calm, even bored riot gear policemen. Everyone knows this protest is a joke. Even the demonstrators arent taking themselves seriously. Except the really young-looking ones, the teenagers sitting like martyrs at the feet of the police. Stand the fuck up, kids. You make me sick. Suddenly, theres a commotion in the crowd and I think of when I was seventeen at the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. Are they attacking



us? No, its just Dennis Kucinich, Ohio Congressman. A buzzing swarm of bodyguards and cameramen surround him as he makes his way through the demonstrators saying how happy he is to be here and how happy he is to see everyone here. I push my way close to Dennis and reach through his bodyguards to shake his hand. Hi, Dennis, I say. Good to see you here, he says, smiling. Dennis, you dont have an extra ticket into the convention do you? No, sorry, he says, then louder, moving on, We need to get the troops out of Iraq. The crowd applauds. 1820 hrs. I change locations. I befriend a volunteer teenager who gives me a map and tells me what entries were the best, meaning where Id have the best chance to get a ticket. We all got in last night, the girl says. It helps to be a volunteer, though. Can I trade you T-shirts? I ask, pointing to her VOLUNTEER shirt. No way, she says. 1830 hrs. Still asking for extra tickets. Im standing next to a trio of VOLUNTEERS and theyre all asking for tickets too. And they get them. I watch some freshly-shaven white politician give them each a ticket. Can I have one too? I ask.


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Both the VOLUNTEERS and the politician stare at me. They say nothing. And resume their gracious chitchat. And after a brief photo-op, the politician continued on his way. Do you have an extra ticket? I ask. Please? No one hears me. I decide to move on, find a different spot, or something. I was losing confidence. You dont have an extra ticket? I ask. Sorry, they say. I came across a pair of little girls asking passing delegates for tickets. They were adorable, matching jumpers, pigtails, no more than ten years old. They even had freckles. I stand next to them and suddenly the three of us are a team. Delegates walk past looking at the girls and then at me and then back at the girls and I could tell they seriously considered giving us their extra tickets. But they didnt. The girls were good, but came just short of counteracting what I represented in these peoples eyes. They looked at the girls like they wanted to feed and shelter them and they looked at me wondering how I strayed off the Freedom Trail. They looked at me like I belonged in a pen. I could still make it back to The Green Dragon Tavern in time for happy hour if I left now. If I give up now. Hi little girls, said some white, fat delegate. I swear they all looked the same. Hi, said the girls in unison. Do you have extra tickets so we can go to the convention? And why do you want to go to the convention, little girls? asked the delegate. Because its important, said one. And historical, said the other. Thats right, said the delegate. And you know what Im gonna give you? Whaaaaaat? they said. Two tickets to the convention, said the delegate and handed each child a ticket. Thank you, thank you, thank you! they cheered. Youre welcome, youre welcome. They hugged him.



I elbowed one of the girls. And do you have a ticket for our friend too? she asked the politician. The delegate looked me up and down. No, he said. I dont think so. Pleeeeeeease, said the girls. Please? I said. Pleeeeeeeeeeeease, said the girls. Alright, alright, said the delegate. Then he leaned in close to me shaking my hand. Youre one lucky bastard, he said. Dont be a fool inside. And he handed me a ticket. The little girls cheered. I held a ticket in my hand. I was going to the convention. And suddenly I knew where I was. I noticed the street signs. I was standing on the exact same street corner last Thanksgiving when someone gave me a ticket for Phishs twentieth anniversary show at The Fleet Center. Then I howled with joy. 1850 hrs.

I entered the gates of the perimeter. Each level of security asked to see my credentials and the final guard told me to just hold onto the ticket, keep it in my hand. I walked down the ramp way, walkway, asphalt entryway, walled by tight-knit black steel fencing and rows of Boston police officers. As I came up on The Fleet Center, I remembered the Phish concert and it was nothing like this. This is scary. I needed a photo so I asked someone to take my picture. No, sorry, she said.


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I was perplexed. Excuse me, can you take my picture? I asked. No, sorry, said another. I couldnt believe it. Im standing at the entrance to the DNC after hours and hours of begging, some mild gun-point detention, a few beers, and now Im here, about to enter the Fleet Center and all I want is a picture of who I am before I go inside and see what all this spectacle is about and undoubtedly Ill be a different person when I get back out so can someone please just capture this moment! Here, Ill take your picture, someone finally said. Jesus, thank you, I said. 1900 hrs. Im inside. The belly of the beast. The big powwow. The ultimate pep rally. Everyones hustling up and down the ramp way. Some are buying buttons or T-shirts from a vendor. Security is everywhere. I look over my shoulder and a SS man in sunglasses is standing against the wall. Hes staring at me. I think. Cant ever tell through those damn sunglasses. Excuse me, someone says. I turn. Its a cop. Can I ask you a question, says the cop. Sure, I say, startled. How did you get a ticket? he asks. What? Im just wondering how in the hell you got a ticket to the convention, he says. Uh I mumbled, thinking about it. I asked for one.



What? I just asked, I say. The cop leans in, grinning, grabs my hand, and starts shaking it vigorously, saying, Thats fantastic. Im so glad someone like you can make your way in here. I laugh. He laughs too and we shake hands for a moment longer. Then he slapped me on my back and walked away. 1920 hrs. None of the police guarding the entrances to the seating will let me pass. They say my ticket only allows me access to the ramp way. Thats the difference between the purple tickets and the green ones. Green means go. Purple means chump. Even though I spent all day getting a ticket I cant even go in and see the show? I ask. Yes, the cop says. Yes? Yes. I cant even go in and sit down? That ticket doesnt give you a seat. I cant even just go in real quick? No. Not even for just a look, just to see what it is? The cop looks at me. Just for a second? I ask. Okay, real quick, he says, letting me pass. This is the top level of the arena. It looks like the fucking Coliseum and the floor of the arena is mobbed with people, most wearing suits either red or blue. Others look like freaks, horrible patriotic explosions of American flags and red white and blue bears and buttons and hats and scarves. They mill about without going anywhere, like tiny American flags, or one giant American flag. Thousands of patriotic blades of grass. The arena pulsates as Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton speaks from the stage far below me. From this angle, high above and at the close side of the stage, I feel like an observer instead of a participant, a spectator instead of a partaker. And looking around at the people in the stands with


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me on the top level, everyone feels the same. No one is really listening to Eleanor. Theyre just waiting for the finale. I look back and see the cop speaking with someone. A distraction. I take off running up the aisle towards the top of the arena looking for a seat. Its packed. At the very top I scan the seating for holes and find one. Seats taken, says an ugly, wrinkled white woman. I see another seat. Oh, no, this seats not available, says a flustered white man I try again. You cant sit here. And again. Seats taken. I stand in the aisle. I need to sit down or Ill be spotted for sure. At the railing stood a pair of swivel-headed SS men. Slowly, their heads were turning in my direction. In the last seat before the aisle in a row just a few rows down sits a well-dressed black woman. I move quickly and sit on the steps of the aisle right next to her. She is fat. And I smile up at her. Dont worry, honey, she says. I wont say anything. Thanks, I say. God bless, she says. And the crowd applauds as Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduces Governor Mark Warner of Virginia. 1950 hrs. Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts speaks. Mayor Quimby. 2020 hrs. Retired Army General Wesley Clark, a former presidential aspirant speaks. Go Army. 2030 hrs. Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, the Democratic vice



presidential nominee from 2000, speaks. Last elections loser.

2040 hrs. Willie Nelson performs with a full choir, all black, from somewhere in Harlem. Willie just sings, doesnt play the guitar. Someone else does that. And when they finished the song Willie sort of shrugged and walked off stage. 2100 hrs. Carole King performs Youve Got A Friend, and everyone sways from side to side singing along. From this height, Carole looks beautiful, what a mane of hair that woman has. And the crowd loves her. Everyones standing, feeling the music, gently waving flags. Some are misty-eyed, and everyone sings along. A slave song. This is the crowd of Hitler and Jesus. Manifested desperation. Weve gathered here today for the coming of the messiah. Save us, we sing. Save us, we scream. These colors dont run. Dont tread on me. This is the DNC. We sing. We scream. We chant and sing, John Kerry. John Kerry, John Kerry, John Kerry, John Kerry, John Kerry, John Kerry, Senator John Kerry, John Kerry, John Kerry, John Kerry, John Kerry, vote John Kerry, John Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, John Kerry.

2200 hrs. Theyre really bringing it home now. Theyve whipped us into a frenzy, everyone is gnashing and squirming. Give us our savior! We believe! Andre Heinz, Vanessa Kerry, and Alexandra Kerry take the stage. Beautiful children. Prestigious, if not pristine. They big-talk Daddy. His pride, his ethics, his morals, his military service, his love, his honor, his strength, determination, wisdom, conviction, confidence, and finally, his fabulousness as a father. We love you, Dad.


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Then the lights dim and a film plays on the big screen. Its a biography/ profile of the great man who is Senator John Kerry. Narrated by Morgan Freeman. Running time: eight minutes. And suddenly the lights are on again and all these old men in military uniforms parade on stage. A loud, booming voice says, And now, Senator John Kerrys former Vietnam swiftboat crewmates The applause is deafening. And speaking now is Jim Rassman, a Green Beret rescued by Senator John Kerry, says the voice. Jim Rassman approaches the microphone, waving and smiling. When Senator John Kerry rescued me, Jim says. I thought I was going to die. But John Kerry rescued me! He rescued me! The crowd howls. And because he rescued me, Jim says, I KNOW THAT HE CAN RESCUE US TODAY! Even Im cheering now. Hes right, that Green Beret is right! Rescue us, Kerry! I yell. Rescue us! Rescue us! yells my fat neighbor. You, you right there! someone else yells. They spotted me. I sit down. Theyre coming for you, warns my neighbor. But there was no place to hide.



The cops stand over me, pulling me up by the arm, saying I have to leave. But I have a seat! I scream. Wheres your seat? I look down the rows and point to the first empty seat I see. Right there. Then you need to be sitting in it, says the cop. Yes, sir, I say. I scramble down the aisle and into the row with the empty seat. I walk right through peoples legs; I force my way down the row and sit without looking at anyone. You cant sit here, says my neighbor. Yes I can, I say. I am sitting here. No, hell be right back, she says. Well, when he comes back Ill leave, I say. But you just cant sit here, she says, getting frustrated. She turns to her husband and asks him to tell me I cant sit there but he only shrugs. You just cant sit here, she says again. Listen, I say. Just shut up. Shut up, Im sitting here. She was flabbergasted. A moment passed while she just stared at me. What? I ask. You know, she says. I dont think hell be happy to find you in his seat when he comes back. Hes a journalist. Yeah, well, Im a journalist too! 2220 hrs. Out rolls former Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, a triple amputee as a result of wounds suffered in Vietnam. Hes in a motorized wheelchair and the convention provided a ramp for him to ascend to the podium. This man has only one arm. No legs. One arm. This is war. And thats what he talked about. He talked about Kerrys bravery in service to our country. Everyone in the audience looked at Max Cleland of Georgia and determined his fate a fate worse than death. John Kerry can defeat the terrorists, Max says. He will hunt them and kill them.


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Everyone applauds Ladies and Gentlemen, says Max, one arm in the air. The next President of The United States, Senator John Kerry. John Kerry comes out fast, shaking hands with all his former swiftboat crewmen, then Max Cleland, then a few other people at the stage fringes. The crowd is going nuts, loud music, maybe U2 is playing, banners waving, women screaming, swooning, men rejoicing, everyone completely out of control and convulsing. The people turned primitive, bawling, hollering. Shaking those hands, John Kerry smiled wider than any man Ive ever seen. And I wondered what President Bush was doing. I assumed he was watching the convention on television. But was he with friends? Family? Maybe just him and Laura. Under the covers. Or maybe he was by himself. With a bottle. Or an eight-ball. In a locked room. John Kerry made another sweep across the stage, waving and shaking hands, long strides back and forth across the stage, then he approached the microphone and the crowd hushed. Silence. He waited to speak. Im John Kerry, he said. Reporting for duty.



And he saluted the crowd. Everyone roared. Even those with me on the upper deck. The entire arena rumbled with the voices of 20,000 registered democrats. Signs made their way through the crowd distributed in armfuls by volunteers in the aisles. The signs read KERRY. I grabbed two. Kerry spoke confidently and eloquently and it was obvious the press would later say theyve never seen him so animated. He moved, we watched, he spoke, we listened, and when he raised his voice to land a declaration, we cheered and waved our KERRY signs. But now we had new signs. Signs that read in red lettering: AMERICA CAN DO BETTER. Because, Kerry said, America can do better. America can do better! And we will do better, because we deserve to do better, because the world deserves a better America! Everyone cheered, waving their signs. Kerry kept talking. And then we got new signs. This time blue lettering: HELP IS ON THE WAY. And when Kerry said, Help is on the way, we all waved and rattled our signs. It was beautiful. We got the signs, Kerry said the lines, we waved the signs, repeat. And then it got serious. Real serious. Senator John Kerrys voice grew deep and fatherly as he spoke about the urgency of this election and the dire need to get to the polls and to make sure your family and friends make it to the polls. He talked about the current statistics that said he was leading the race against Bush and then he said, vote for me, and the music started and his wife and children joined him on stage and everyone was hugging and smiling as the thousands of balloons strapped to the ceiling were released and started to fall. Although there was an obvious malfunction. Only some of the balloons were released and you could sense that somewhere among the rafters there was a team of men panicking, desperately struggling to release all those balloons. Kerry and friends pretended not to notice. Then the rest of the balloons fell and confetti too. Everyone was clapping and singing and praising and rejoicing. And


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this continued for twenty or thirty minutes. No one was leaving. The stage was bare and the balloons everywhere but the music still played and the people still danced. The juice was flowing and I felt the only appropriate course of action would be to trash the place but everyone was too glossy-eyed and high on democracy for anything like that. So I left. 2300 hrs. Im on the train riding back to Cambridge, somewhat dejected because this girl I was flirting with got off at the last stop. Now Im alone. Alone with my KERRY signs. The high of the convention is wearing off and the sad, depressing after-party crash is coming on strong. Excuse me, someone says. A women and her young daughter are standing next to me. Shes holding two EDWARDS signs. I see that you have two KERRY signs, she says. I was wondering if youd like to trade one of your KERRY signs for one of our EDWARDS signs. I think it over. No, I say. No, I dont want to trade. But you have two, she says. I know, I say. She glares at me then pushes her daughter along saying, How rude. How rude.




hat last little section of roadway, The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway We parked the RV at Pratt on campus, a deal I made with security via telephone from Boston. We grabbed only a few items and headed to Sams where we ordered burritos from Castros. Then we went to The Alibi and drank with our friends, all of whom I hadnt seen in almost two months. We exchanged stories, drank beers, and staggered our anecdotes to keep the night moving. But eventually, as with any story or trip or story of a trip, those stories end. Suddenly youre home. And youve already told everyone all the anecdotes.

The following morning all three roadtrip nation teams and RVs


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rendezvoused in Union Square, outside of Starbucks. It was a reunion for everyone, including us but we exclusively were home, done, the experience could not meld with New York for us like it did for those who had never been to the city. Even though we had a few more interviews scheduled, we were sleeping at our apartments in our beds. We were home. And just in time. That morning at Union Square killed both our RV, Norm, and Sams Grand Cherokee that she drove to meet us. So Sam was pissed and panicked and not wanting to leave her car to go to the interview. And Mike was busy dealing with Norm. So Chuck, Jeff, and I took a cab to the interview, an interview Sam booked and scheduled.



When I initially took my first job I thought, Ill do this for three years, and then Ill go back to teaching. And it probably took me two weeks to figure out that I had just serendipitously been so fortunate as to fall into an opportunity to do what I believed was the most important work in the world. -Gloria Feldt


LOR IA FELDT: Well, Im honored to be picked, I should say, for starters here. Um, so are we going? Okay, were going, were doing it, very good. Well, when I was twenty years old I had three children. Two of them were in diapers. And I was living in Odessa, Texasand it was about this time, actually my third child, my son, was born in May of that year, and it was just sort of about that time, that something happened to me, I dont know whether it was maturity setting in, or what, but I had this like light bulb moment, that it was as though light bulb went off in

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my head and I go, oh, my goodness, here I am, I have three children and if I had to support them, myself on my own there was absolutely nothing I could do, I had no education, I had no job experience, and I just kind of woke up at that moment and I decided I would start college. So that was my twenty year old experience. AP: So where did you go to school? GLORIA: Well there was a community college, in Odessa, and I started there. And, but, that was all I could do for a while. So I was very careful to take all my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I didnt have to be away from home very much, and, so I took classes for twelve years before I finally finished. I was able to finish, at long last, in that twelfth year, because the University of Texas opened a branch in Odessaotherwise, it was pretty much a proverbial vast wasteland, out there. I studied Sociology, and communications, speech. I was preparing to be a secondary school educator, teacher. And, meanwhile, I had taught Head Start, I had taught preschool, which I was able to do before I had my degree, and I loved teaching the little kids, but I had decided that I wanted to teach high school level. JEFF: So what happened after you graduated? GLORIA: Well, one of the things I guess about everybodys life, is that things happen, and either the path you may have though you were starting out on is not necessarily the path you end up on As I was taking my last course, to finish my degree, I did a paper on the local Planned Parenthood. Why did I do that? Well, there were a variety of reasons. I had learned about the organization Planned Parenthood when I was teaching at Head Start, because during that time it was the Civil Rights Movement, and the War on Poverty, it was clear to everyone that one of the keys to helping families help themselves to get out of poverty was to enable them to have the number of many children that they felt like they could really support and take care of. And so my teaching colleagues at Head start, and also the Catholic priest in the church where my class was held, were all very supportive of Planned Parenthood and they had told me a little bit about the organizationId done a little bit of volunteer work for them but I hadnt really been involved. So I was taking an ecology course as my very last classthey forced me to take a



science class, I thought that was the easiest one I could possibly take and so I decided I would do a paper on Planned Parenthood, because we were talking a lot about the environment, and the balance between population and environmental issues, and so I thought Id do a paper to find outdo a little study to find out how voluntary family planning worked, and howhow successful it was. And so I did this very small paper, and in the process I interviewedsome of the staff members and some of the board members at Planned Parenthood in West Texas. And, before I knew it, some of them had asked me whether I would serve on the board, and I said, sure, and before I knew that, and before I even had a chance to go to a single board meeting, the executive director called me and she said she was leaving. Now Id never met this woman before I interviewed her, by the way. I had just thought she was looking at me very strangely when I talked to her. And she called me up, and she said, I think you should submit a resume, for this job, so I thought this would be a great experience, Ive never had a formal job interview before. Im totally unqualified, they would never hire me for this job, I know nothing about any of this. I had no management experience, I had no healthcare experience - I was really not qualified for the job, but I thought, it would be a good experience, Ill throw a resume together, and Ill have a job interview and thatll be very good for me. That was thirty years ago. And here I am. So you never know whats gonna happen. AP: So what was it like when So you had your interview and they gave you a phone call? GLORIA: No, I, they hired me. At my second interview they hired me, right then and there. AP: What did that feel like? GLORIA: (Laughing) Umit was a little euphoric, however, I had ridden from Odessa to Midland, where we had the interview, the last interview, with two board members, and as we were driving back home, one of them said to me You know were about to lose all our funding (laughing) um, 90% of the funding came from the federal government. And they said, you know were probably about to lose all of our funding, what are you going to do? So I quickly found out what life is like at Planned Parenthood, were always on the verge of some kind of crisiswe


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did not lose our funding, but, um, but theres alwaysI found out very quickly that there are always challenges. Yeah. JEFF: Those sort of challenges, did they make you question your decision to stay here for thirty years? Or did you ever think, what am I doing here? GLORIA: When I initially took my first job I thought, Ill do this for three years, and then Ill go back to teaching. And it probably took me two weeks to figure out that I had just serendipitously been so fortunate as to fall into an opportunity to do what I believed was the most important work in the world. JEFF: Thats awesome. Wow. Well, all right. So it was a twelve-year process to graduate, to get a degree. Not many people would stick it out for that long. What was it that kept you going, while youre raising these children and going to classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays when you can fit it in and, you know, the tunnel being so long and maybe not even realizing Was it always like, Well I will graduate if I just keep at it, or was it like, Ill just keep going for now, I mean, what kept you at it? GLORIA: Well, for one thing I loved, I loved learning. And that was something that I had sort of put aside, as I was having children and was so preoccupied with taking care of them in their very early years, I had put that side of myself aside, and one thing that may come as a surprise to you, I dont know, but those were the 1950s in West Texas, and girls werent encouraged to learn, girls werent encouraged to have educations or careers And so, it was a gradual awakening, and each opportunity to learn some more was a whole new set of doors opening for me and so I guess it was just sort of a constantthere was constantly something more there, and, uh, I knew that I would eventually finish, I just didnt know when. JEFF: Could you tell us about some of the more memorable challenges along the way that youve had to deal with, since youve been working at Planned Parenthood? GLORIA: Sure, oh, let me think about what some of those are. Well I guess in my early days, in my early days when I started at Planned Parenthood,



it was 1974. That was one year after Roe v Wade was decided. And, the big challenge there is that and I didnt know it was a challenge at the time was that everybody thought, Okay (claps her hands) move on. You know, all the battles are over. We had court- we had Griswald versus Connecticut decision which gave the right to birth control. We had Roe v Wade which gave the right to choose abortion. We had federal funding for family planning under Title X of the Public Health Services Act, and so, everyone thought Okay. Now what we just need to do is to provide our services. The first challenge that I had then was to take a very small, very new Planned Parenthood affiliate in West Texas, that had five health centers at the time, in five little small towns, and, uh, and to grow that, and to find friends in each of the other, of the 17 counties that we had as part of our area and get them to help me open clinics and health centers there. And so, that was - the first challenge was just expanding services. And I did the same thing, after 4 years in West Texas I went to Phoenix, where I was the CEO, and that was also a, you know just athey wanted me to come and grow, and develop, and open new health centers, and expand services, and so it was a growth challenge. But I think that what people didnt understand is that in a democracy you can never count on your freedoms being won forever. You have to always be fighting to protect them, you have to be watching out, you have to make sure youve got your grassroots, political activity able to- ready to go, and that was not something that Planned Parenthood did very well, in those days. And so the next learning that I had was that we had to- we had to, make sure that we organized and mobilized our supporters, because with the Rove V Wade decision there was a very strong insurgent anti-choice movement. And they were energized, because they had lost a battle, you see; our folks were complacent, because we had wona battle. And, um, and so, we were- I think we werea little bit slow. And we let our grassroots languish. And then I had to learn, how to and I had no experience in this, either. I then had to learn how to, how to organize supporters, put together a grassroots base, um, do media work, lobby, uh, do all those kinds of- so all those kinds of public policy-oriented things. Now, that of course, took money, that you werent going to be getting from the federal government, because federal money cant be used for lobbying and that sort of thing, so therefore I then also had to learn how to raise money. So those were was sort ofyou know it was just a progression of things. I thinkbig challenges came in the form ofa violent anti-choice movement: as they didnt win, they became more violent, and I had to


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learn how to keep our spirits up, how to keep everyones courage up, in the face of a tact that no other, no other organization was having to face. And oftenwell, Ill give you an example, ofthe Chief of Police in Phoenix told us to just close the clinic, we knew we were going to have to, we knew there was going to be a big demonstration against us. And said, well, just close the clinic that day. And we had to make sure that law enforcement understood, wait, wait, wait, were the ones who are being transgressed against. You know, hold it, you know: youre job is to keep those people from preventing people, both staff and volunteers, and patients from walking into this clinic, and safely. So, Ive had to learn how to use those kinds of skills. AP: So when youre struggling to keep everyones spirits up and keep moving forward, what is that keeps you inspired and keeps you moving forward? GLORIA: Theres almost not a day that goes by, that someone doesnt come up to me and say Planned Parenthood saved my life. And for me its just knowing thatwhat we do, serves people real well. It helps people in their daily livesthat people have been able to get health care that they can count on, that they can afford, that theyve been able to- I mean, I get stories like, Oh, I had my pregnancy test at Planned Parenthood when we found out we were pregnant, we were so thrilled. Ive had just the opposite: I had such a difficult situation, and I went to Planned Parenthood and you were kind to me, and you didnt judge me. Um, I was afraid to ask my parents, about birth control, when I was 16, and I went to Planned Parenthood and you all were so nice to me and I didnt become pregnant, and I got through high school and I was able to go to college. So I mean, I hear just such a variety of stories, every dayand thatI think that thats what keeps me going, isI know what were doing is really, really important to people. And I know it from my own life, too. I mean I know, I know, I know the birth control pill saved my life, when it came out, in the early 60s. If it hadnt been for the birth control pill I might have continued having a baby, every two years, (laughing) for many more years to come. And, so its very personal and also its just that, its knowing that it touches the individual. AP: Do you feel like, after being here for so long, do you feel like its a perfect fit?



GLORIA: I think it is. I think it was you know Im one of the lucky people whose been able to put together what I believe in so much, and have that be my career, also. Now, after I had been at the affiliate in Phoenix, in Central and Northern Arizona, for 18 years, I thought, at that point- that was at 22 years with Planned Parenthoodthought that that was probably I had done enough, and I wanted to write, and do some other things. And so I was justI was about ready to leave Planned Parenthood and at that point instead I was recruited for the current position I hold as the national president, and- it was one of those situations where it was, yeah, it was the right person at the right time. And the national organization needed somebody who really understood the grassroots and the mechanisms of the local affiliates of the organization, and so it was- it was something that seemed to be exactly the right thing at the right time. And, its been very exciting, and theres been a few challenges here too. And I think one of the challenges is that as we wanted there is a whole generation who has grown up not knowing a life without choice. And thats what we wanted. But when you have not known life without choice, its also harder for young people I think, to necessarily feel the same sense of commitment to preserving and protecting their reproductive rights, as perhaps, women and men my age may. I see that really changing, though, today. I think that with the March for Womens lives, where over a third of the people who came were young people, that - this past year Ive spoken on many college campuses, and I find that everywhere I have gone there is a real energy, a real interest, in reproductive health and rightsissues. And, in fact, Planned Parenthood now has over 150 campus chapters, which is something brand new, in the last few years, and as I see it, thats our leadership for the future I mean thats, thats our training ground, thats who will lead this organization in the future. And thats very exciting. Thats very exciting for me. I think it seems to, that commitment comes not from knowing life without choice, but from appreciating that without choices, life wouldnt be as good as it is. Especially for young women, who are recognizing how fragile their ability to be equals in this world can be. And, um- it also takes other forms in the sense that there are still so many injustices that need to be corrected. For example, many of our campus groups are working to make sure their college health plan covers contraception. Or that they can get emergency contraception from the student health service. And now that many of themany of the school systems are only using abstinence-


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only programs, and not doing medically accurate, comprehensive sex education. Some of the campus groups we have are literally teaching sex education seminars, for incoming freshman, because they say that their colleagues are coming to campus without knowing what they need to know. So there are new issues all the time and thats whats most exciting. AP: What do you think that those issues are coming from, those new issues? GLORIA: Theyre coming because there have been so many steps backward, since I started out with Planned Parenthood. Because there have been, there have been a number of court cases that have chipped away at the basic principle of reproductive rights in the law, and theyve given legislaturestate legislature and Congress more ability to restrict access to services. So, I think people are beginning to see, or maybe experience you know when 87% of the counties in this country have no abortion provider, you know you begin to sort of notice that. Um theres a whole movement of medical students for choice, now, who have recognized that there needs to be another generation of abortion providers, and theyre determined theyre going to be it. And I think that with the advent of more women into OB/GYN, thats really, you know that awareness is even heightened. So, and then- I tell you, young women really get angry when they realize their health insurance doesnt cover their birth control pills, even though it may cover every prescription drug that their male colleagues may need, and yet their insurance doesnt cover their contraception, which is probably the thing they will most use, other than aspirin, in the course of their life well they get really, really angry about that, and they want to take action. AP: Well, especially, in the last four years weve seen, not just in one area, in all these movements from the 60s and 70s that established all these different institutions, theyve all gotten chipped away. GLORIA: Yeah, civil rights in general. Across the board. JEFF: Yeah, definitely. I spent a summer working with environmentalists in Colorado, and we spent the whole summer doing canvassing to maintain the Clean Water Act, and thats a basic. With all that happening,



where do you see the future of Planned Parenthood lie where do you see it taking off, in which direction are you moving? Or how do you see yourself responding to that? GLORIA: We are very proactive, about what we think needs to happen, from a public policy perspective. We have been able to get legislation passed in 22 states, requiring insurance companies toinsurance plans to cover contraception, if they cover other prescription drugs, and weve had some movement in Congress on that as well. Weve also had successful lawsuits. We have begun to pass legislation that requires hospital emergency rooms to provide emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors; more than half of the hospitals do not, and so were working to rectify that. Those are just two examples, but the principles is thatI dont believe- and this is just my personal philosophy on thisI dont believe that you can ever keep a movement moving by simply staying in place. You have to always be identifying the next big challenge that needs to be taken, and in our case, the big challenge needed to be taken, that we are acting on, is that we need to have an agenda that is proactive, that raises the issues, with the public, so that people have something to rally around. And that has enabled us to build a very large grassroots base, that now with the help of the internet, can be quickly activated and mobilized. These are new tools that, that werent available to me when I was starting out, but now, we are able us to mobilize peopleinstantly, to participate in the democratic process. At the same time, of course, for Planned Parenthood, because we are both an advocate and a service provide, we are also looking at how we can better servethe public, and I think thats going to include having much better web-based access, to services. JEFF: So, you said that youre an advocate as well as a service provider, andmaybe you could talk about the relationship between the education and the political aspects, like the state legislature, the balance of that, and how that dichotomy works out. GLORIA: Well I think it- because we do both service and advocacy, and because we are a private, non-profit organization, and have so many individuals who support us, it gives us- it gives Planned Parenthood the ability to be courageous, and take on the hard issues, to fight for things that need to be fought for, that if you didnt have this private support


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base, you wouldnt be able to do that. And, certainly, that holds very true for issues like, uh, minors to access reproductive healthcare, or minors to access abortion services in any way, shape or form, as well as access to family planning. I mean what many people dont realize is that the same people who are trying to take away access to abortion are also trying to take away access to family planning, which is what prevents the need for abortion, and- so that we need to be constantly pointing that out. Which means that we sometimes become the targetof attacks, and controversy. I wouldnt say that we are controversial, because- look, 90% of America supports family planning, and thats most of what we do: thats 90% of our services. But that theres always that other 10%. And theyre very loud. And they will always create controversy, and they will always attack. So we just have to be able to take that, and to go with it. I think it makes us stronger. I mean Ive always believed that controversy speaking of teachingcontroversy is always an opportunity, a platform to deliver your message and- people learn from controversy. Controversy forces people to think, about issues they may not have thought about before. And, so, itsit makes for a challenge, but it also- its what makes Planned Parenthood strong. JEFF: It must be very difficult people have such deep-seated feelings about this. Im sure it must be very trying on you, very trying, at times. I mean I dont think you see any- in the civil rights, perhaps, but even beyond civil rights- any greater anger than people who oppose the ideas that you see as so important. But at the same time are you still trying to change peoples minds? GLORIA: No, were not trying to change anybodys minds. The whole essence about being pro-choice is that you respect people, and they can believe whatever they want to believe. Unfortunately were faced with an opposition that does not hold that same respect. And so, wehowever, are very committedyou dont see us bombing anybody else. Its alwaysyou know, it comes this direction. But you know, the fact is, I think that this reaction that some people have, thats so virulent and sometimes even violent is because theyare afraid, of the changes in our world changes generally that are occurring, but I think also changes that are occurring because Planned Parenthood has created such profound change. I mean if you think about it, when women can have the same control over their fertility that men have always had, that changes the



gender power balance totally. Totally. And so, we think thats a good thing. There are some people out there who dont think thats a good thing, and so they get pretty nasty about it. But, uh, but well stick with what we think. AP: What kind of advice would you have for us 20-something, out of school and trying to find our path, be successful artists or strive to make change what kind of advice would you have for us? GLORIA: Well, I guess I would say, first of allthat you learn from everything, and that theres not any activity that you ever do that is wasted. I mean iffor example, as hard as it was for me to be a parent when I was so young, I learned a lot from that, and it helped to propel me toward what my lifes work would ultimately be. You really learn something from everything that you do, and you dont always realize it at the time, just how valuable that learning is. Butthats one thing. The other thing would be, I tell people what my father always used to say to me. I think that probably, subconsciously, that has enabled me to take on a lot of challenges that- that other people might have thought were too big. But, he always said, and this is going to sound typical fatherly, you can do anything your pretty little head desires. (laughing) And I think thats probably true. You know, if you want really want something badly enough, you can- you can do it. You can figure out a way. Theres always some way that you can do what you really want to do, in your heart. And it may not look like what you thought it was going to look like, at first, but youll find your way, youll find your way. AP: How does America in terms of organizations like Planned Parenthood compare to other countries in the world, Europe or in the East is there like Planned Parenthood, London, or a comparable organization? GLORIA: Yes, there are Planned Parenthoods in almost every country in the world. But in many countries, theres not a need for Planned Parenthood to be as big or as prominent as it is in the U.S. And the reason is, that in, particularly in almost every other industrialized country, everyone has access, full access to health care, including family planning, and even abortion services. They can get their birth control, they can get their reproductive health care, pap smears, all of that, through their national healthcare system. And theres not even a question. And their societies


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tend to have a healthier attitude about sex than the U.S. I mean the U.S. is very schizophrenic about sex, and sexuality. I mean theres a lot of hype on one hand, but theres almost no really calm, honest information, on the other hand. And that leads a lot of problems. Thats why the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any industrialized country in the world. The highest STDS, the highest abortion rates. Those countries have- they figured it out a long time ago. And while its not perfect there, they still a much, much lower rates of all of the problematic things that we have in the U.S. Even in the developing world, there is, typically, much more of a commitment to making family planning available, than there is the U.S., because the recognition that if theyre going to be able to develop, economically, they have to have women involved. And for women to be able to participate as equal partners in that economic development, you have to be able to control their fertility and plan and space their child bearing. So, the U.S. may think its the most developed country in the world, butnot on this issue were not, not by a long shot. We have a lot we can learn, from other countries.




o, what do you want to do with your life? You should be a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant, a consultant, blah, blah, blah. Everywhere you turn, people try to tell you who to be and what to do with your life. We call that the noise. Block it. Shed it. Leave it for the conformists. As a generation, we need to get back to focusing on individuality. Selfconstruction rather than mass production. Define your own road in life instead of traveling down somebody elses. Listen to yourself. Your road is the open road. Find it. -Roadtrip Nation manifesto


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When we returned to Union Square, the RV was running but unable to reverse. Driving the RV throughout our trip I learned a thing or two: backing up is very important in case you take a turn too wide. And its always better to take a turn too wide than too short. So this was a big consideration as the filmmakers planned a route for the three RVs along Madison Avenue for what would be a beautiful clip shot by four cameras at four different locations. And when that went smoothly, Mike Marriner and I in the front seats of Norm, howled happily and slapped palms. Now all we had to do was get this beast off the island into Red Hook, Brooklyn to Brunos Garage for repairs. We had no room for error. One wrong turn would strand this RV in the middle of an intersection. Mike Marriner was the driver. I was the navigator. The journey, wrought with anxiety. Each turn brought us closer to disaster. Right turns more than left turns. We avoided right turns. We avoided turning at all.

At Brunos, Hamilton Pkway and 14th, we parked and immediately jumped out the RV and started chugging the growlers of Magic Hat beer in the fridge. We were laughing, happy to have had a successful mission. The four of us finished them in no time and then Mike pissed in an empty one and we all laughed about how it was the same color as the beer. Waiting for the cab to Clinton Hill, we collected our remaining belongings from the RV and piled them up on the sidewalk, effectively abandoning ship. At the time I didnt recognize that last, difficult drive as the last and final drive Id have in the RV but even in looking back at it now we all new it was. We didnt speak about it and I dont think any one of us really thought about it but we hugged and drank in celebration for completing that drive from Union Square to Redhook, which could be seen as a small analogy for the entire trip, a drive that brought us from Laguna Beach, California to Brooklyn, New York. Then the cab arrived, and we all piled in the backseat and told the cabbie Sams address.

Just a few days later, alone in my bedroom, I started writing about this drive across the country and my broader Roadtrip Nation experience.



I could go on and on about what I took away from the trip, what sort of self-enrichment I experienced. But even now I have such a small understanding of the magnitude which this roadtrip will influence my life: the people we interviewed, the landscapes we traversed, the inside jokes, the lessons learned, the near accidents, and the moments of triumph Most of lifes experiences can only be understood in hindsight and the longer that hindsight, I think the better the appreciation. Quite possibly, one may only be able to evaluate ones life at the point of death. Will the hours and hours of footage of our roadtrip still exist after our deaths? Even sooner, what will it be like to watch myself on television?

We didnt make it to Mount Rushmore on our roadtrip but I do remember seeing an interview on PBS with the sculptor, a man named Gutzon Borglum. He had just completed the monument and the interviewer asked him, How does it feel to have finally completed this project? On black and white film, standing on a cliff face with Mount Rushmore high in the background, Gutzon Borglum answered the question. He said, The granite of that mountain erodes one inch every 100,000 years. In sculpting the presidents, we inflated the proportions two inches out from the mountain. So the monument wont truly be finished for another 200,000 years. With reality television, much like natural erosion, editing is everything. I have no idea how Ill sound on television. But well find out. Summer 2005. Thats the future, man. In the future, well all be reality television stars



When I was back there in seminary school There was a person there Who put forth the proposition That you can petition the lord with prayer Petition the Lord with prayer You cannot petition the lord with prayer Can you give me sanctuary I must find a place to hide A place for me to hide Can you find me soft asylum I cant it anymore The man is at the door Peppermint, miniskirts, chocolate candy Champion sax and a girl named Sandy Theres only four ways to get unraveled One is to sleep and the other is travel, da da One is a bandit up in the hills One is to love your neighbor till His wife gets home - Jim Morrison

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THE PRATTLER IS A) someone who speaks in a childish way B) a constellation. C) Pratt Institutes monthly student publication. D) the organ in your body between your spleen and your kidneys. E) slang for a sexual maneuver. F) both B & E G) both A & C

Dan Savage on The Prattler: DAN SAVAGE: Did you take all these butt pictures? Whos butts are these? AP: Ours. DAN: Really? AP: Yeah, instead of putting a photo of your face next to your article, we put our butts. Theres the ass-match game at the beginning of the issue so you can match the butts with the authors. DAN: Thats a great idea except all of us are too old for that Thats funny. I dont see the monkeys ass though. AP: Well, one of writers wasnt comfortable putting her ass in the paper so I told her I was gonna put a monkeys ass instead. I dont think she



believed me. DAN: These look awesome. These look much slicker and more interesting than the usual college publications. (big smile) It looks a little like Vice. AP: No. DAN: (laughing) No, okay it doesnt. It doesnt look at all like Vice. Just these pages look like Vice.

AP: Just because theres poop and a penis in every issue doesnt mean its Vice. DAN: Did Sandra Bullock really have that picture taken? AP: No, its an article about DAN: Photoshopping celebrity heads on other peoples bodies? AP: Exactly. Answer: ( G ) 252

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ick is a skinny, dirty punk who used to be really fat. Emotional. A good writer. He was my successor as editor. And were still good friends. The last night I spent in The Prattler office was with Nick. It was winter, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the office was wrecked. It was a mess. Certainly, when I graduated in May, neither I nor other staff members made any effort to clean it, but since then, its condition had continued to deteriorate. More trash, more bugs, less ashtrays but more cigarette butts. Empty liquor bottles, wine bottles, beer bottles, a few pieces of marijuana paraphernalia. More murals, more graffiti. The room smelled like mildew and jism. Only one of the five computers worked. And the toilet was clogged and caked with dry, dark brown, month-old diarrhea.



But the boat was still afloat. That last night Nick and I sat around smoking pot and talking about dreams and Gus Van Sant and drug addiction. Nick had somehow barreled through a few interventions, some rehab time, a few failed relationships, and he was still using heroin. It made me uncomfortable to watch him tie off with the phone cord and cook up at the computer desk. But at this point I had said all a friend can say to someone in his position. Everyone had. I just wanted to see him, spend some time together. I missed him. It was obvious he was on his way out.

The next morning members of Student Activities, Residential Life, and Pratt security entered the office and found Nick sleeping among his belongings, including his kit, needles and all. And that was the end of The Prattler. They cancelled all funding, changed the lock on the office door, fired everyone on staff, and threatened to proceed with judicial hearings. The boat hit bottom. I called Mike and we stopped by the Student Activities office to ask them to open the office so I could get my belongings. I had been squatting there myself at one point and still had a fair share of worldly possessions among the rubble and nonsense. Mike too. Packing up my stuff under the supervision of the creamy-faced woman from Student Activities was a cathartic experience, and not because I was finding CDs I thought Id lost. All of us saw it coming. The blue and red lights of the institution had been in our rearview mirror for the entire last mile. But my crew and I made it out alive. Now, the heat fell on Nick. I felt bad for him. But worse for The Prattler. Collecting my belongs from the office made me feel guilty. The timing was off. It was like going to a funeral for a long since dead friend.


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DR E S S S EXY AT MY F U N E RAL* *As it appeared in Pratt Institutes monthly student publication, The Prattler. Volume 74, issue 5. May 2004.

ve had a great time as editor of The Prattler these last two years. Working for The Prattler is a rewarding endeavor and if youre reading this, I suggest talking to Nick about submitting your work or joining the staff. You get paid to do this shit. You are your own boss. You work when you want. Im still perplexed people dont bang down the door insisting we publish their work. I now have a ten-issue portfolio as Editor-in-Chief. And all that sounds pretty swell to me. Today Residential Life employees entered The Prattler office and were, and I quote, overwhelmed by what they saw. They said they didnt appreciate the vagina decoration on wall hole and that the beer bottles have to go.



But honestly, when working on an issue and dealing with deadlines, who has time to take the empty beer bottles to the trash? And when a pipe bursts in the wall and plaster falls to the floor creating a giant moist hole, youre damn right someone on staff is gonna paint it to look like a vagina. Because thats what The Prattler is all about. But really, theres more. In the last two years: The Prattler has successfully spent $60,000 of the Student Activities Budget. The Prattler staff has gained access to numerous events without paying and/or often times without being invited. The Prattler has interviewed the likes of Jim Carroll, Nic of !!!, Hunter S. Thompson, Al Burian, and the late Wesley Willis to name a few. The Prattler has alienated and aroused the students, the faculty, and the administration, the specifics of which I will not disclose here. The Prattler has incited numerous sex acts between staff members and admirers of The Prattler. The Prattler staff has been paid to do this.

But you already knew that. All in all it was a wonderful ride, and now that Im graduating I look back fondly at my time as editor. I remember my first submission to The Prattler, back when I was a freshman, before I was editor and before I was a staff writer. One day I got out of class and The Glowsticks were gone. So I wrote about it. I wrote about it because their absence affected me as Im sure it affected everyone who still remembers them. What I mean is that The Prattler can act as a forum for Pratt students to write about what affects them, to interview who inspires them, and to involve themselves in an institution beyond our classrooms.


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And I still believe that. The Prattler is constantly transforming under the direction of a few passionate individuals of whom I was only one. By no means did I do any of my work at The Prattler alone. For their energy, time, incentive, and most importantly their dedication to The Prattler, Id like to thank Mike Force, Adam Bezer, Jeff Campbell, Samantha Weiss, Nick Katzban, Dana Dart-McLean, Alex Smith, Micki McCoy, Katrina Vogel, Michael Donahoe, Jacob Severn, Kristin Prevallet, Kevin Co, Julie Miller, Ray Shappell, Benjamin LaRocco, Serena Sanford, and the late Michael Mahoney. Keep the river on your right, your eyes on the prize, your feet on the ground, and a dollar in your pocket. Thank you for everything. Farewell. A.P. Smith




should probably write a few words about Pratt Institute, being as its my alma mater, the home of The Prattler, basically the setting of this whole piece. Context is important. Pratt Institute is wedged between affluent and impoverished neighborhoods and surrounded by twenty-foot tall iron gates at all sides, in what is considered Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, NY, 11205. Established in the 1800s, Pratt originally functioned as an art and architecture school and had a reputation for mechanics and engineering. These days, almost two hundred years later, the curriculum has changed but the campus has not. The engineering building remains now housing most of the liberal arts classes, and the mechanics and chemistry buildings


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are now where youll find the silkscreen studios and the welding shop. You may have heard of Pratt Institute. Dan Clowes went to Pratt. Robert Redford went to Pratt, but I think he dropped out. And if youve ever seen the classic pornographic film Debbie Does Dallas, then youve unwittingly seen not only Pratts gymnasium locker rooms but also the library, with its glass-tiled floors. Also, as youre reading this, theres a movie in the works based on Dan Clowes writing about Pratt. But for the most part, all art schools are the sameand Pratt is no exceptionif only because of the student body. High school rejects, thats all art school kids are, with their sarcastic T-shirts, their Converse hightops, their bent haircuts, and indifferent attitudes. On Monday nights, the campus galleries have their senior show openings with wine and cheese even though alcohol is forbidden at such events. On Friday afternoons in the summer the campus lawn is awash with skirt-clad females and tank-topped males, all promiscuous and seemingly apathetic. On Saturday nights hardly anyone goes to Manhattan. Thats the luxury of living in Brooklyn. The parties are better, the bars are better, the people are better, and youre better because of it.

At Pratt I majored in writing with a minor in cultural studies. My class of the writing program was only the second graduating class of the major, meaning we had a lot of pull with the curriculum. We helped shape the program. If we didnt like a class, we said so, and more often than not the class was cut from the major. All of the writing majors smoked cigarettes and before our writing studios we gathered outside to smoke for as long as we felt appropriate before heading inside to learn. I now cherish those classes, those writing studios. As a major, we had it all covered: the ugly cynical girl, the pretentious Southern Californian, the fun-loving music lover from Pittsburgh, the sensitive gay guy, the cute hippie chick whom I fucked for a while before she shacked up with the emotional poet lesbian. There was the grammar perfectionist, the quiet nervous Jersey girl, the neurotic Jew, the sexy burlesque girl Wed go around the room in our writing studios reading aloud and then critiquing. As my senior thesis I submitted for approval a collection



of a non-fiction, but the head of the department rejected the proposal and insisted I write fiction. I acquiesced and sure enough, at the end of it all, I shared the best thesis award with that cute hippie turned lesbian. We each got a $100 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble, which I spent on maps and guidebooks before the roadtrip.

But I should say that despite all the skills and proficiency I developed through The Prattler, I learned as much if not more about my own writing in those classes with those aforementioned peers. In those four years of writing studios and class critiques I developed what is commonly referred to as your voice, my voice as a writer. That is, when I actually made it to class.

Pratt is really strict on class attendance: if you miss three classes, you fail. Now, Ive never missed less than three classes of any of my courses in four years of schooling. And I never failed. So what does that tell you? Art school is not like regular college. At art school you can do what ever you want. I spent my entire freshman year at Pratt smoking pot. Seriously, I smoked pot nine and ten times a day every day. But thats what the dormitories will do to you. My freshman year roommate was a mad genius named Billy and Billy was gay. Im sort of proud of this, yet more so happy for him to have found a roommate who wasnt some crazy homophobe. At first I couldnt sleep listening to him jack off every night. But soon his jerking came to be a soothing, comforting sound, not unlike the bubbling of an aquarium, and when I moved out I suffered a brief bout of insomnia.


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WE LCOM E F R E S H M E N* * The Prattler. Volume 74, issue 1. September 2003.

y now you have mapped out the campus in your head, youve attended the first of all your classes and you have a vague feeling about which teachers are great and which teachers suck ass. You feel fairly comfortable in your dorm room despite your shitty roommate, and youve collected a few people you might consider your friends. Perhaps youve even shat and masturbated. Good for you! Youre on your way. So this is the Prattler. This rag is supposed to be a newspaper but it only comes out about once a month so any Real News is already Old News. Besides, nothing ever changes around here. Okay, heres the news: Scaffolding moves from one building to a different building. There, thats it! So well probably write a lot about sex and drugs two activities thataccording to Residential Lifewere banned after a raunchy incident in 1974. But dont be discouraged. Everybody figures out how to get off and get high and get away with it. Thats what were here for, isnt it? No,



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theres more to it. And we know that your attention span has been fried thanks to your Nintendo machines so well stick to lists, mostly so youll read this thing. Jesus, were you guys born in 1985 or something?

Things To Do In The First Week Of College: 1. Pack light. The rest you can buy on the street for a buck. 2. Dye your hair red or something. Or lock it up. Punks are hot as shit cause theyre rebellious. 3. Stay up till at least 10 am talking about tampons, or philosophy, or your parents, or something. And when your friends look at you funny because your roommate is obviously trying to fall asleep, whisper, its my fuckin room too. 4. Do a new drug. Doesnt matter what it is, just something new. 5. Go to a bar. Seriously, if you look any older than 18 most bars will let you in, so long as its not a gay bar or a place where the guys tuck in their shirts. 6. Grab some flesh. The first year is probably a bad time to go looking for your cool college girlfriend or whatever, just try and grab a tit or something. 7. Videotape your friend vomiting. Hell thank you later. 8. Learn the subway system sober. Then get caught doublingup in the turnstile. (Show your Pratt ID, tell them you live at 200 Willoughby, and give them your suite-mates phone number. If youre lucky, youll get a ticket that youll never have to pay.) 9. Puke in either the urinal at the Gardens or the sink at the Alibi. 10. Decorate your room with any of the following movie posters: A Clockwork Orange, Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, or Evil Dead. 11. Forget about him. If he is cute, he is gay. 12. Art History is amazing when youre drunk. Thats all.

In any case, youll probably have done most or all (in which case you get extra cool points) of the things on that list, and by now you already think youre way too hip to read this shit. If so, then kudos. But know this: if you continue down that Casey Jones train of thought, you may soon find yourself contemplating whether or not you should drop out of college.



Then youre officially tool cool for school. Well, heres another list for ya: Reasons To Stay At Pratt : 1. College degrees make people, especially parents, very happy. 2. You like cats. 3. Theres always another party. 4. The swimming pool. 5. The roof of the Main Building (take the fire escape behind the courtyard all the way up, climb the ladder, enter the shack, use the spiral staircase, push open the rooftop, presto.) 6. Cooper Union and NYU wont accept your lazy ass. 7. The lawn: a magnificent piece of earth landscaped into a motivation-thieving, all-night-drinking, quiet place to do your thinking wasteland. R.I.P. Glowsticks. 8. The Prattler. 9. Theres always another party.

And so you stay. Theres no reason to leave Pratt. Quite honestly folks, this is as good as it gets. No, it dont get no better. Just look around you! The world is at your fingertips. And I mean that sincerely. Because soon enough, youll be a sophomore. And we all know what that means... Things To Do In Your Second Year Of College: 1. New Clothes. Okay, man we get it. Youre a goth. But just know this: you dress like you drink lambs blood and chain your girlfriend up at night, so if you dont do either of those things, please quit the false advertising. People are just shaking their heads at you and imagining you crying into your pillow at night. 2. New Apartment. Its cheaper okay. Just tell your parents that theyre wasting their money on a room you have to share with your homosexual roommate whos trying to kill himself. Besides, just think about how nice it will be when youre stoned and you dont have to worry about every knock on the door. Is that my RA? 3. New Friends. I know you bonded with these people while you were sitting outside of Stabile every night smoking each others


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cigarettes but man, theyre losers. Whoever they are. Trim the fat. Fuck you Piggy! I hate your tapestries and your fucking Bob Marley poster. We live in New York man, get over it. 4. New Music. Im not saying I know The Next Big Things so Ill just say that its always good to update. Listen to Internet radio (3wk, KEXP, Dainbramage) or go to some expensive shows. You have to move all the way up to the present before you get to go back again. Past to Present. Present to Past. I feel bad if you have a lot of Best of, Cream of, or whatever albums. Youre lazy, dick shit! 5. New Classes. Thank shit foundations over, right? If your first semester sucks, its probably because of your teachers. Dont get pushed around, man. Ask about all the best teachers because theres no fucking point in being here if the classes blow. Otherwise do your own things and dont even think about grades. I got all my best grades when I stopped trying to please my teachers.

Then if you dont have a nervous breakdown, youll be a Junior and most likely halfway done with your college years (sorry, architects). At the halfway mark, you get a sense of pacing. Suddenly you know what its gonna take to finish it off. And thats a good thing. - Prattler Staff




hated high school. I didnt go to high school my senior year. Instead, I enrolled in some jumpstart program that allowed me to go to Highline Community College in Des Moines, Washington, just twenty minutes south. Every morning I woke up around ten, drove along Puget Sound smoking pot until I got to the school where I took Washington State History, The Short Story, Psychology, and Photography. Unless I decided to develop some film or print some photos I was home around noon. I spent the rest of my time writing or smoking pot or visiting my girlfriend, Allison, at the University of Washington, thirty minutes north. We dated for about two years and I loved her deeply but that was so long ago and we were so young its not worth mentioning any further. Except maybe to say she introduced me to Mike. Mike and I hit it off pretty well although to this day he still brings up the first time we met. I told him I was twenty-nine, finished grad school, was moving soon to Hawaii to start a career as a marine biologist. Needless to say, I eventually told him the truth. And weve been friends


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ever since. In fact, Mike is how I learned of Pratt. He wasnt satisfied with the art department at the University of Washington and was applying as a transfer student to Pratt Institute. Id never heard of the school. They have a writing program, he said. Yeah, where is it? Brooklyn. That sounds nice. I should apply. I have an extra application. And that was it. I submitted a short story I wrote titled Life. Bad title, I know. I was only seventeen years old.

My girlfriend, Allison



EXCE R PT of LI F E, submitted as my writing sample in my application to Pratt Institute Joey waited for her to calm down and said, I could fire you right now. Jackie tried to clean herself up. She slowly picked up her gear, and pulled the fix into the syringe for later. I should fire you, Joey said and then paused to let Jackie get in a few post-weeping squeaks. You know that I should fire you. Joey watched Jackie nod as she picked up the last of the evidence and put it in a wrinkled envelope that she slid into the back waist of her skirt, hidden behind her shirt. Joey ran his hand over his hair, But I like you, Jackie. He unbuckled his belt. So Im going to let you keep your job. He unzipped his pants and pulled out his cock. He let it hang out there for a moment, while he just looked into Jackies blood-shot eyes. Do you want to keep your job, Jackie? Jackie hesitated for a moment. Then she just walked over, kneeled down and sucked Joeys cock. Joey closed his eyes and let the climax sneak up on him from behind. It was one of those relaxing orgasms, the kind you can feel in every part of your body, radiating from your pelvis into your stomach, then your legs, then your arms. He let out a long, soft moan. Jackie stood up and leaned over the sink. She looked at the faucet like she wanted to wash her hands and rinse out her mouth but was afraid to do it in front of Joey. He buttoned his pants and looked in the mirror at his hair. Dont take too long, Joey told her, and walked out of the womens bathroom. He went outside for a cigarette.

In high school I was a serious anti-smoking advocate. I had that whole holier-than-thou attitude around my smoker friends. Smoking killed my grandfather and it was killing my father. I hated people who smoked.


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Then one night, wasted at a party, a friend said to me, Dont knock it until you try it. Then give me a goddamn cigarette, I said. He did. I lit it. Took a drag. This is amazing, I said, looking at the cigarette. My friends laughed. No, Im serious, I said. This is amazing! But I didnt really smoke that often until I got a job. Working at Taco Del Mar I needed an excuse to take a break. Smoking meant not working. And thats how it all started. I actually quit smoking for two weeks before moving to college. But that first day, moving in with my parents, I bought a pack and smoked the whole thing before bed. I always told Mike Id quit smoking the day he picked it up. Five years later, Mike still doesnt smoke. And I still smoke a pack a day.




fter working at Taco Del Mar, I got a job as a barista at Olympic Coffee & Roasting Co. about a mile from my house. And when I quit that job the summer before I moved to college, I promised myself Id never have a real job again. Real job meaning, a job in which I would have to be at a specific place at a specific time for perhaps consecutive days. Then I started working for The Prattler. Sometimes Mike, Bezer, and I would stay up working, writing and designing, for days and nights at a time to meet our self-appointed deadlines. And some days we didnt work at all. We loved it. It never felt like a real job, I think, only because we were our own bosses. We worked with our friends. Mike Force graduated a semester before me and for that last semester Jeff Campbell was Art Director. And it was a free-for-all. We called our

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last issue The Pop Culture Issue, but what the hell does that mean anyway? We did whatever we wanted; it was our last issue. We even used some of our budget to make buttons, twenty-five different buttons, some designs more than others, some very rare, one button per issue. Bezer and Jeff and I had a damn good time choosing the designs. One night I said we should have a button of a monkey doing cocaine and Bezer image-searched it on Google and sure enough, we found a picture of a monkey blowing fat rails of cocaine. So we put it on a button.

And with that issue we did a postcard contest in which we received thirty submissions and picked one really good one and paid for 5,000 postcards to be printed. For the Pop Culture issue Michael Donahoe wrote a review of The Passion of the Christ without ever seeing the film. He also wrote about weird foods like Soup in a Hand and Better n Eggs. Pierre Ahlstrom wrote about world music, I wrote about Henry Rollins, we had video game reviews, and book reviews, an article about Courtney Love, and a naked photo of Sandra Bullock. For the center spread we printed an illustration by Kiersten Essenpries of humans with animal heads. Some people described the issue as hedonistic. Or Pagan. But by then it didnt really matter. We had made our mark. And people had responded warmly. That issue was our farewell, a send-off, one last communiqu.

The issue before Pop Culture was the Honesty Issue. Originally it was going to be the We Caught Osama Issue but no one on staff wanted to lie. And thats the truth. Or close to it. Saddam Hussein had just been captured from his spider hole. Janet Jacksons tit came soon after that. And I think its safe to say that the country was a little confused by all of this. At the time, I was thinking outside the box of the institution already waning in my love and attachment for Pratt. The world was pretty messy and I was psyching myself up for The Big Plunge.



I wrote a few articles for the issue, one about the recent Russian election and a great man named Mikhail Gorbachev. Opposite that I wrote Integrity Turns Seventy and Righteousness Blows Out the Candles: Donkeys With Green Hearts, a rant about Ralph Naders presidential candidacy. And I also wrote an article about going to Yoko Onos birthday party. My friends and some staff members tried to persuade me not to run the Yoko Ono article. They said it would taint my reputation. Mike said it would spike doubt into every one of my previous articles. But I didnt care. We printed it. One afternoon a professor stopped me on campus and told me how funny the issue was, especially the Barbara Walters interview at Yokos party. Im glad you enjoyed it, I said. But is it true? he asked. Well, I said. It is the Honesty issue.


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WE DONT B E LONG H E R E* * The Prattler. Vol. 74, issue 4. March 2004

ven though her birthday was Wednesday, February 18th, Yoko Ono celebrated on the following Friday. And The Prattler was there. For those of you who remember Yoko Onos appearance/performance at Memorial Hall two years ago, you would think Ms. Ono would have extended an invitation to the staff of Pratts monthly student publication. But no. Jeff and I had to lie and fight our way in, as is The Prattler way. Can I help you? asked the doorman at the entrance to the building (49th St. between 7th and 8th). Were here for Yokos party, I said. Take the elevator to the fifth floor, said the doorman. In the ascending elevator, Jeff and I couldnt believe it had been that easy. We popped our collars, adjusted our belts, and tried not to laugh. When the elevator doors opened, the fifth floor security guard asked us



for our invitation. We gave it to the doorman, I said. The doorman doesnt take the invitations. I take the invitations. Jeff looked at me. I told you we needed to keep the invitations! I screamed at Jeff. I fucking told you! Now we have to go all the way back downstairs! Its fine, said the guard. No, its not fine! Just go on in, said the guard. Good, I said. Thank you. Now Im not one to be easily star-struck, but when we entered the ballroom and saw the hoard of celebrities sipping champagne and smoking cigarettes, my mouth went dry and sweat collected on my palms. Thats Ozzy Osbourne, said Jeff. Theres Yoko, I said. Shes talking to Lou Reed. Im gonna talk to Ozzy, said Jeff. Im gonna get a drink. At the bar I ordered a bloody mary and as I waited I heard a woman with a thick Boston accent order a dry martini with two pimento olives. It was Barbara Walters. And Im obsessed with Barbara Walters, arguably the best journalist of our time. Shes interviewed everyone from Fidel Castro to Hillary Clinton to Christopher Reeve to Martha Stewart, even Patricia Hearst. Not wanting to let an opportunity slip by, I pulled out my tape recorder and introduced myself to Ms.Walters.

BARBARA WALTERS: Very nice to meet you. I was under the impression that press was not allowed tonight. A.P. SMITH: I know were here to party, but could I just ask you a few questions very briefly? WALTERS: Well, maybe not isnt the best time. Why dont you speak with my publicist, Marci. Shes over there in the pink blazer. SMITH: I was heartbroken to hear you quit 20/20. After twenty-five years, why quit?


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WALTERS: Well, Marci can answer these questions for you, but I stepped down from 20/20 because I wanted a little bit more flexibility in my life without the responsibilities of a weekly newsmagazine. (Big smile.) It was very nice to meet you. SMITH: Real quick, Barbara. Im a little confused. In your book, How to Talk to Practically Anybody About Practically Anything, the inside jacket reads that you were born in 1931, which would make you seventyfour, but in Jerry Oppenheimers biography he writes that the 1930 Federal Census says you were born in 1929, which would make you seventy-six. Exactly how old are you, Barbara? WALTERS: Thats very rude of you to ask. You still have a lot to learn if youre aspiring to be a journalist. SMITH: One more thing. In 1995, you asked Sandra Bullock if she was sick and tired of being called cute. Barbara, are you sick and tired of being called cute?

But Barbara Walters didnt answer that question. She grabbed her martini and walked away, whispering something to Marci in the pink blazer who eyed me suspiciously before approaching one of the security guards. I needed a shield or a wingman to protect me from my seemingly inevitable eviction. Jeff was where was Jeff? There, on the couch next to Ozzy who was gesticulating wildly as he spoke to a few other celebrities of whom Vincent Gallo was the only one I recognized. Yoko was alone against the wall, delighting in her celebration. I walked quickly, but not too quickly, to introduce myself to Yoko before someone she knew approached her for conversation. She was extremely pleasant and when the trio of security guards came to escort me out of the building, she told them to back off.



But he has no invitation, Ms. Ono. You forgot your invitation? Yoko asked me. Yeah And the security guards retreated to their posts. Sometimes you have to lie to get what you want, said Yoko with a grin. I agree completely, I said and we both laughed. Enjoy the party, Yoko said, excusing herself.

I stood against the wall for a moment while finishing my drink and scanning the room of celebrities. Whoopi Goldberg was there. Jerry Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Kathleen Turner, they were there too. It was quite the shindig and I doubted that half the attendees even knew Yoko Ono. But maybe they did, which, if true, made me think that fame is indeed the supreme sorority that us bitter unknowns dream of joining. Back at the bar, I ordered another bloody mary. Hey, there, a man said to me. It was Jeff. Having fun? I asked. We dont belong here, Jeff said. I know, I said, laughing. What was Ozzy talking about over there? I dont know, Jeff said. I couldnt understand a bloody word he was saying.


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ll never pay to go to the Wax Museum. Not with Kai, not with Jeff and Sam, not with anyone. You just have to call these places, any place really, and say youre a writer for some publication, exaggerate your mags distribution a little bit, and say youre bringing a photographer. Jeff and Sam and I had a wonderful time running through the museum posing with the figures snapping what could pass as action shots. Then we went to The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant in Times Square and ate until our waistbands burst. We did a lot of that kind of stuff with The Prattler. But really, Yokos birthday is February 18th. Mark your calendars.

Before all that, Mike Force had yet to graduate and worked for The Prattler as Art Director with Jeff and Bezer as designers and me as editor with a half-dozen writers and/or contributors. The office was a mess. The office was our home. I slept there about twice a week for reasons ranging



from laziness to drunkardness to simple comfort and convenience. Id write and drink bottles of wine and write some more and pass out. It was a wonderful time and without a doubt the height of The Prattlers popularity, success, and consequently our celebrity. Girls made out with us, slept with us, bought drinks for us, whispered secret crushes to us, stroked us, complimented us, and even spread rumors about us. Prattler gossip. Walking through campus on a good day felt like everyone respected you and acknowledged you for, if not your talent, at least your ambition. On bad days though, I can remember feeling like one of the last humans in some dystopian Invasion of the Body Snatchers world where everyone shared a secret I didnt know. What I mean is that sometimes I welcomed the public persona of The Prattler and sometimes it made me feel like staying home or, when going out, wearing a disguise. Theres really no need to exaggerate the attention we staff members received. People are attracted to power, talent, and ambition, be that in the form of politics, street art, or monthly publications.

I remember one instance specifically. I do believe it happened that summer if not earlier. I was at Union Pool, a bar on the outskirts of Williamsburg, drinking with some friends and a cute girl who met me there, a girl I was convinced Id fuck at the end of the evening. I recall there being free drinks or otherwise really cheap drinks because I was drunk and still drinking. Outside in the back deck, surrounded by at least fifty other hipster drunkards, a girl sitting near where I was standing called out to me. A.P. Smith! she said. Youre A.P. Smith! I turned. Who are you? She introduced herself and continued to tell me how much she loved The Prattler. She was wasted, barely keeping her eyes open. Kinda ugly. I just think youre so sexy, she told me. I just think youre so sexy, Ill suck your dick for a dollar. I laughed, reached in my pocket, grabbed a dollar bill, crumpled it into a ball, and threw it at her face. Ill put my money where your mouth is, I said. The girl dropped to her knees, pulled my pants and boxers down to my ankles, laughed at my small penis, and started sucking, licking,


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making my cock all stiff and sticky. I stood there drinking my beer with my dick in this girls mouth in front of everyone, fifty-odd people, some strangers, some friends, the girl I came to meet, and a few classmates I recognized but had never talked to. People threw beer caps at me. Some, mostly women they were, screamed at me. I pulled her mouth off my cock, pulled up my pants, and told her to give me a cigarette. She did and some of the crowd laughed but most turned their attention back to whomever they were trying to fuck that night. The cute girl I had come to the bar to meet just stared at me with eyes wide. She couldnt believe it either. That was the pimpest thing Ive ever seen, a friend of a friend whispered into my ear. The blowjob girl kept looking at me but when I returned her gaze she avoided eye-contact. I left shortly after that. With the cute girl who met me there. We made out during the cab ride and when we reached my corner we exited and continued to make out on the sidewalk. I broke it off, grabbed her by the hand to rush us inside, and this guy walking by puts out his fist and I give him a pound. Have fun with that tonight, he says. I will, I say, and usher the girl inside.



M R. P RATTLE R, A CHAT WITH TH E FOU N DE R* *The Prattler. Volume

ill Richards was kind enough to grant me a telephone interview from his home in Boynton Beach, Florida, where he lives with his wife, a girl from Cleveland. Born in 1917, Richards is well aware of the current political climate and our imminent plunge into war. I hate war, Richards said. I hate to see people die because of some dictator or tyrant who has control over people. Richards enrolled at Pratt in 1937 in the first class of the industrial design major. After graduating from undergraduate school, Richards remained another two years for graduate school before going to Columbia for his masters degree in Art Education. One month later, Richards enlisted in the military. Hes since retired.


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BILL RICHARDS: Each school at Pratt Institute including the three schools of engineering, the art schools, each had their own individual mimeographed monthly sheet that reported about the doings of their department. I felt that Pratt institute had more to tell the students than what appeared in the monthly sheets. So I called a meeting with the people in the art school, the engineering school, the library school, the home economics school... and I proposed that we should have an allinstitute newspaper that goes beyond the individual schools and tells about sports activities, the social activities, the museums and galleries around New York, and make it all available. I suggested that we pool the projects from the sheets into one newspaper. So we took a vote and it passed. And I said lets get a name for it so we had a contest in the school; we had a ballot box and everyone turned in a name for the publication. Some of them were Cannon and different things, but most of the names were The Prattler. So thats how it happened. And I went to see the president of Pratt Institute, Mr. Charles Pratt, the grandson of the founder and I told him what I was doing and he said it was very nice and he wished us luck and I went to the head librarian and head of the library school, Mr. Shirley, and I asked him if he would like to be our faculty advisor and he said yes. I said, We have no place for us to work. He said, Well, Ill make room in the basement of the library and set up some tables and a couple of typewriters and you could have your office there. So I appointed all the representatives from each school to report on their school. And I got volunteers to do the sport page and the social page and book reviews and gallery reviews and anything of interest that happened at Pratt Institute that would be of interest to all of the students. And we got a printer and we printed our first paper and thats how The Prattler, as a newspaper, lasted over fifty years. Last time I was at Pratt Institute, I got a copy of The Prattler, which is in magazine form. And my immediate feeling was that it didnt meet the requirements that The Prattler was meant to cover. Like any newspaper The Prattler at that time, was meeting the needs, desires, and interests of the student body. And thats what The Prattler should be doing now. And I dont know to what degree it is successful or not. Thats for you to decide.




remember sitting in the filthy Prattler office, surrounded by empty beer bottles and remaindered joints, Mike and me, eating our respective take-out dinners, either Chinese, or Pizza, or Burgers, Gyros, Middle Eastern, or Mexican, occasionally Thai. I dont remember exactly what we were eating while brainstorming about the next issue, Mikes last issue, our last issue together. Wed been collaborating for years, since before Pratt. All the way back in 1999, Mike and I put together a little zine out in Seattle. This was when Mike worked at The Neptune cinema and I would cruise up north smoking the whole way, catch the last showing of whatever movie was playing, watch Mike change the marquee, and then wed roll back to his dorm and smoke pot and listen to Built to Spill, and one evening we conceived the zine, Gremlin Sex. Five years later, after working together at The Prattler for seven issues, we had just one more issue to do


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The Freedom issue. Mikes idea. Freedom. Is freedom alive and well today? If so, then where? In what form? I had watched clips on the news of President Bushs risky and compassionate and surprising Thanksgiving Day visit to the troops in Iraq. And I thought, thats not freedom. Has America lost its freedom? Mike and I decided to find out. We made no hypothesis, we just talked about places where Freedom might remain. And we only talked about one place. Florida. If anywhere, Freedom survived in Florida. Orlando. And we thought it appropriate to color the Freedom issue red, white, and blue. And the issue would be in 3-D.




emember the Alamo? Yes, yes I do. I was just a wee lad, maybe six years old, living in San Antonio. In fact, the same year my parents took me to the Alamo, they took me to Disney World. And I remember that too. Yet somehow, somewhere along the line, sometime between then and now, I grew up. Or did I? I guess its a question of innocence? Naivet, perhaps? No. This has nothing to do with that. No answers will come of those investigations. Such questions only serve as exit ramps for the real, painful truth, a truth that can only be found by following the path of one single question, perhaps the most important question ever asked throughout the history of all humankind. The question is pure, but


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not simple. What is the question? Well, if you dont know by now, better leave it alone. And for those of you who are brave enough to follow this investigation, read on brothers and sisters. This is the time of our time. This is America. This is Disney World Before we continue on this treacherous journey, I must first tell the tale of conception, how all of this came to be. At the time, Mike Force and I were working hard at testing the boundaries of our powers as writers and designers, but more importantly as publishers of a monthly magazine with a 1,000+ issue distribution throughout campus. How far could we stretch this? Could we take advantage of the schools administration and the deep, triple-stitched pockets of the institution? Yes. Yes, thats what started it all, just a simple three letter word. We made the decision and stuck to our guns and what resulted is possibly the greatest, most persuasive jedi mind trick ever. I presented Student Activities with the story: we would travel to Orlando and find out if Freedom is indeed alive and well today. They didnt get it. Why Orlando? asked the head of Student Activities, a recent mother with creamy skin despite her acne scars. Where the fuck else would we go? I said. Orlando has it all, and if Freedom has not been totally annihilated, it has certainly retreated into the dark recesses of central Florida. You cant use The Prattler budget for vacation, she told me. Well, I said. Firstly, its not vacation, its work. And secondly, written in the Pratt Institute club handbook, and technically The Prattler is a club, it reads that we are allowed to use a percentage of our yearly budget for traveling if it pertains to the benefit of the club. She looked me up and down, waiting for me to break. I held fast. And were not asking for much, I said. Just a pair of plane tickets and a hotel room for a few nights. She sighed. I could feel the impending acquiescence. We wont pay for the hotel, she said. How about just airfare and one dinner each night were there. Fine, she said, somewhat flustered. Keep your receipts. Mike could barely believe it and all I thought was that we should buy our



tickets and leave as soon as possible before the ground fell out beneath us. So we did and the day before our departure we made one more decision... Our flight arrived on time and we rode a city bus for two hours to our hotel on International Drive. We were staying at the LO Quality Inn. Walking through the hotel parking lot I made mention of a car with numerous police supporter decals on the back window. Mike slowed his pace and our senses heightened. We loitered momentarily outside the lobby to see if anyone looked like they would be against us before walking inside, straight to the check-in counter. I told the woman my name. I stared straight ahead at the girl but in my peripheral I could see Mike scanning the hotel guests and employees milling about the lobby. Oh, it looks here like your room isnt ready yet, the hotel clerk said. My mouth went dry. But it says here, she continued, that you have a package at the business desk. A package? Mike said, blurting it out. His question landed awkwardly. Yes, she said. Go pick up your package and by then your room should be ready. Okay, I said. Mike and I walked to the business desk. Can I help you? the clerk asked. Now, about this package Before Mike and I left New York, we made one more decision. With all of our optimistic energies, killing any negative waves before they reached the surface, Mike and I packed a box of coffee, shampoo, and an unclaimed VHS copy of Pretty Woman found in The Prattler office and we mailed it to ourselves at our hotel room at the LO Quality Inn on International Drive in Orlando, Florida. However, also in the package mixed and hidden within the coffeewe packed enough pot, mushrooms, and cocaine to keep us in the true spirit of Disney throughout our stay in The Magic Kingdom. And so: She said there was a package for us to pick up? I said to the desk clerk. Whats your name?


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A.P. Smith. She stood up and moved out of view. If the law was onto us the enforcers would reveal themselves now, I thought. Prison couldnt be that bad. Whats Floridas mandatory sentencing for drug trafficking? A cool veil of sweat formed on the back of my neck. The clerk returned with a package. And a signature sheet for receiving. I signed on the dotted line. And we walked back to the check-in desk. You room is ready now, the clerk said and gave us each a key card. We were out of the lobby without looking back and walking poolside towards our room. It seemed as if wed made it. We reached our door and hesitated. Were they inside waiting for us? Thats certainly the way I would do it if I worked for the DEA. Yet remembering our agreement to go through with this until the end, be that success or prison, I opened the door. The room was empty. In the room we stood motionless for a few moments mostly just listening, waiting for the door to break open or a knock on the door or KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. Someone knocked at the door! Someone was knocking at the fucking door! Who is it? I asked. Housekeeping, a woman said. Mike shook his head no. Come back later, I said. I have your towels, the woman said. You have no towels. I peeked into the bathroom. She was right. Mike shrugged his shoulders. I walked to the door, looked through the peephole at a fat housekeeper with towels in her arms. I opened the door, she handed me the towels. I closed the door. That fucking maid scared the shit out of us. This last detail I left out of the final published version of this tale in The Prattler. All else that follows appears as it appeared in the Freedom Issue, December 2003



TWO M E N OF G E NTLE M EAN S VI S IT TH E HAP P I E ST P LACE ON EARTH: TH E QU E ST FOR F R E E DOM I N TH E AG E OF EXP LOITE D CYN ICI S M* * The Prattler. Volume 74, issue 3. December 2003.

In America youll get food to eat Wont have to run through the jungle And scuff up your feet Youll just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day Its great to be an American In America every man is free To take care of his home and his family Youll be as happy as a monkey in a monkey tree Youre all gonna be an American -Randy Newman


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Part I God Is Alive And Well, Shaking Hands With The Masses In The Center Of The Pleasure Peninsula

ve never seen so many fat people in my entire life. Theyre everywhere. And I mean fat. Not overweight, husky, big-boned, hearty, well-fed, or chubby. These people are morbidly, insanely obese. Some of these fatties are so fuckin fat, it makes me think America should outlaw XXXL clothing. Whatever. Its a lost cause. Keep eating, fatty. And if you cant beat them, join them. The Worlds Largest McDonalds is located on International Drive in Orlando, Florida. Two stories tall, the building juts gracefully out of the ground like a Roman cathedral. Inside, even more similarities exist: intricate murals, high ceilings, statues depicting saintly figures like Sir Ronald himself and the often-forgotten Moon-Face-Man. And yes, a divine presence can be felt throughout the McDonalds, perhaps even Roy Crock himself. Although I doubt it. I ordered a number three and paid $5.34. As I ate by the indoor grotto, mossy from lack of care and attention, I watched this chubby, crew cut kid in a red T-shirt force-feed dollar bills into the token machine. This kid was barefoot and looked like the offspring of some incestuous union between The Worlds Ugliest Man and The Worlds Stupidest Woman. Or something far worse. As I watched this mutant child struggle with the last crinkled bill, which the machine kept rejecting, I was surprised by my lack of compassion. Usually, when I see such creatures, lame dogs, blind rats, road-kill, a tinge of empathy sparks in my heart. For this monster I felt nothing. I hated him and consequently hated myself. He took the crumpled, endlessly rejected dollar bill, and rubbed it against the edge of the machine like his father had undoubtedly taught him to do if the machine refuses the bill. Well, at least hes learned that much. Maybe theres hope. With one more bite, I finished eating my quarter-pound of beef, beef from the carcasses of 1,000 different cows. I then exchanged a dollar for tokens and followed the chubby child monster up the stairs to the second floor. At the summit, placed high upon a pedestal like some ancient relic, was a sculpture: Earth, in the hands of Ronald McDonald. This is truth;



this is the horrific, unyielding truth. I played Missile Command and ignored the fear. Every single cell in my body was screaming for me to run. No, we mustnt run from the truth, no matter how painful. And what is pain anyway? Alienation? Embarrassment? Yes, that too. Pain is being stared at. Pain is knowing that no one wants you here. Pain is watching a child skip with glee until she sees you and stops, stuck to the pavement, paralyzed by, if not fear, at least an utter lack of comprehension. People like me dont belong in Disney World. I could see it in the eyes of every terrified child who looked at me, every disgruntled face of every parent who passed in front of me, every ride operator who glared at me as if to say, Why are you ruining it for everyone else? Stuck somewhere between childhood and parenthood, I felt ashamed. Its true; I didnt belong. I know the secrets; the magic doesnt work on me. The men in cartoon suits do not entertain me. I know the rabbit from Alice In Wonderland isnt taking a break to drink some carrot juice. Hes smoking a cigarette, savoring it, making it last as long as possible before he returns to work, a job in which he surrenders his voice, his face, his identity and signs childrens autograph books purchased from one of innumerable gift shops carefully placed throughout the Magic Kingdom. Now, that is pain. Lord, hear our prayer. In this place, Walt Disney is God: unseen, yet omnipotent. This is the Holy Land. Do you believe? Yes, it is A Small World. Yes, Dreams Do Come True. Yes, I would like Fries With That. This is the new religion. Disney gives people hope. Disney quells their fears, reveals their ultimate desires, and holds them to a code of ethics that may rock the very foundation of reality. But without faith, what does one have? Without faith, one is lost in a sea of hedonism, debauchery and dissoluteness.

PART I I Unbridled Fascism Amidst A Utopian Underworld Where The Women Are Scornful And The Drinks Are Anything But Free:

Before I left for Orlando I bought three packs of Polaroid film and a pack of condoms. The cashier looked at me knowingly, assuming I was about to partake in acts of sexual perversion suitable for documentation only


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with Polaroids. I wish. I just wanted to be prepared. Isnt that the Boy Scouts Motto? Its good that children are taught to be prepared, taught to expect the unexpected at such a young age. Youth is a fertile field, not unlike Mesopotamia. And like Mesopotamia, years past, youth gives way to hostility and war. To which I say, Fuck em if they cant take a joke. To which the authorities reply, Come with us, son. You see, Celebration is a community, owned by Disney, a masterplanned community of which the master plan was to create a town not unlike those dreamt up by Sherwood Anderson or Harper Lee or Tim Burton. Established in 1994, Celebration is meant to be a refuge, an ultimate repression of all things bad. This town was constructed to be the quintessential feel-good town of both yesteryear and today. The citizens of Celebration embody the self-perceptions of The Best Country In The World: supremacy, righteousness, and piety. Their uniforms say it all: pastel pink T-shirts, khaki shorts, Birkenstocks with socks. These Americans wear fanny-packs and ride Segways. These Americans go camping every summer and return to tell how great it was to spend a week with No TV, No Nothing. And this was the ultimate celebration: the eighth anniversary; Founders Day Weekend. Tables and tents representing all the local



restaurants were set up throughout the Town Square. A stage had been erected, and a finale of fireworks was planned. Children and parents alike, the whole town really, came out for the festival. The excitement was tangible. It may as well have been Christmas. I was terrified. Mike had wandered off into town and I stayed behind at the Town Square to document The Celebration. In front of the stage where some cover band was playing, and everyone was singing Celebrate! Celebrate! Dance to the music! I stood videotaping everything: the band, the shops, the fat nuclear families eating paella, and two Oscella County Sheriffs approaching me, still approaching me, ordering me to turn off the camera and come with them. Whats the problem? I asked. Just come with us, the one with the gray mustache said, placing a hand on my back, leading me around the corner, away from the anniversary party. As soon as were out of sight, the other Sheriff, the shorter one with a shaved head, snatched my camera and launched into the interrogation: What are you doing here? Im here to investigate freedom, I replied, with pupils dilated. I still had the foul taste of dried fungus in my mouth and with the sudden absence of joy and music, the drugs were beginning to win. But why are you here? I was silent. These men wanted no answers. They would believe nothing. Their faces turned from stern to suspicious to bloodthirsty. I was going down. You say youre from New York but you have a Washington state ID. Yes. So what are you doing in Florida? The sheriff asked, dropping his palm on the butt of his gun. The other one finally figured out how to work the video camera and was reviewing my footage. Look, I said, watching the whole scene from the air, ignoring the insects crawling up my back. I know I look a little different, I know Sir, we dont care what you look like. We have a lot of different looking people in our community. Then what exactly is the problem? I asked. Just calm down, sir. I stood there as hatred and fear radiated off these men: their uniforms


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starched and flat-chested, decorated with a dozen autocratic ornaments, their bellies kept off their crotches by belts holding medieval weaponry, the likes of which I had never seen. If they searched me and found what I was hiding, there would be no hesitation. Just to let you know, sir, said the soldier with the camera. Youre free to leave at any time. We are not detaining you. Then Im leaving, I said, open-palmed, waiting for my camera. Well, sir, for the time being we do have possession of your camera. Im not leaving without my camera. Then youre going to have to wait. So I am being detained. Just calm down, sir. The distant party thrived and my paranoia grew. Certainly I wasnt the only person in Celebration with a video camera. Had someone tipped them off? Were these sheriffs merely stalling until the rest of their boys showed up? And what then? What would happen to the bearded, dreadlocked, college student when the cavalry arrived? I imagined the worst: a hazing with broomsticks, coerced Russian roulette, simple crucifixion, perhaps a filthy snuff film with me as the star. Were you taping the children? the mustache asked. What? Suddenly the sheriffs walky-talky squawked some code that assuredly suggested my background check had come up clean. Ten-four. The sheriff handed me my camera. Youre going back to the festival, right? I was thinking about walking around the neighborhood and getting some foot Why dont you just head back into town. Okay. Thanks for your cooperation. Back at the party, the band was leading a Wax-On, Wax-Off linedance to the song Car Wash. I bought another beer and sat at a table near a foursome of elderly men in knee socks. Just drink your beer and smile. Smile, I told myself. Smile. It was time to retreat. Mike and I left Celebration as the fireworks boomed on the horizon. We followed the pristine sidewalk of Celebration Avenue, crossed Celebration Boulevard, and headed towards the freeway, towards true civilization.



I wonder if theyre any animals living in there, Mike said, pointing at the swampy overgrowth past the white picket fence along the sidewalk. There, clinging to the trunk of a tree was a mammoth raccoon. Mike and I stopped and stared, saying nothing. The raccoon stared right back. I smiled at the creature, illuminated by the distant pyrotechnics: first red, then blue. Did you enjoy your stay in Celebration? The raccoon said, laughing like a maniacal Yoda. Yall come back now, ya hear?

PART I I I The Rise And Fall Of Many Great Men And Women On Their Way To Something Greater

Tomorrow Land, home of Space Mountain, the Carousel of Progress, and The Time Keeper, is not the Tomorrow Land of Today. No, this is your parents Tomorrow Land. This is a cold vision of steel and iron, lasers and surveillance. After you disembark the Space Mountain coaster, all signs point towards a moving walkway that parades everyone past a series of televisions airing live-feed from hidden cameras aimed directly at your head. Sorry, Walt. Im not impressed; I see myself on camera everyday.


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There I am on television at the bodega, the liquor store, the bank, the bagel store, even the elevator. This is nothing new. But maybe something else is at play here. Where are the other cameras? I saw not one camera in all the rest of Disney World. There were no cameras in any of the gift shops, no cameras in line for any of the other rides. No need for surveillance in The Happiest Place On Earth, no need for cameras where The Magic Lives. Yeah, right. Disney World is the Supreme Casino, responsible for the happiness of a multitude of disillusioned internationals and domestics alike. Fourteen million people visited The Magic Kingdom last year. You damn right they have cameras. Everywhere. Hidden; yet omnipotent. Walt, you seedy fuck. The reckless capitalism of Disney and all its Worlds and Lands has spread like herpes throughout all of Metropolitan Orlando. And International Drive is the sickest of them all. Puss-filled, infectious sores line both sides of I-Drive: Dennys across the street from Congo River Gold God Volcano Golf Island; next to IHOP is The Worlds Largest Gift Shop with 1,000 Gifts For $1.99; then theres Magical Midway, Sizzler,



McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Burger King, Ripleys Believe It Or Not, Wet N Wild Water Park, and finally, at the far end of International, amidst a cluster of palm trees, lies Skull Kingdom. I think its worth it, said the fat Goth girl selling tickets to Skull Kingdom. Do you like living in Orlando? I hate it. You hate it? I hate it. Tourism is the largest employer in Metro Orlando, accounting for 27.1% of the jobs in the community. The annual earned wages of direct tourism industry employees reached $2.9 billion in 2002. The admission price for the Magic Kingdom is fifty-five dollars. During our stay in Orlando, Mike and I paid for all of it, all of it but the airfare. Pratt paid for our airplane tickets, the first success of our Freedom Quest. And yes, this quest was a success. We met our objectives: McDonalds, Magic Kingdom, Celebration. We immersed ourselves, somewhat unwillingly, in the homogeneous culture of Orlando. We dove straight into the blinding mouth of commerce and tourism and came out relatively unscathed. But had we seen it all? Was our mission complete? No. There was one more location, one more idea we had yet to explore. All our efforts would be in vain if we didnt mingle with the truth-sayers, the domestics, the factory-workers, the beasts who run this whole operation the locals.

Let me set the scene: Downtown Orlando is one sprawling tittie-bar. And you dont have to tip. The clubs and bars are stuffed with Disney employees ready to get laid, desperate for someone to give them just a little happiness. In men, this is displayed by coy smiles and gelled hair. In women: boobs, lots of boobs; cleavage, erect nipples, I saw at least three girls wearing only a tube-top and suspenders. Everyone looked like a B-grade porn star. I began to think Mike and I had made a mistake. These beasts looked hungry. And I was starving. Hotdog vendors, thank God for hot dog vendors. Second only to a cabdriver, a hotdog vendor is the single best source for information, a contemporary oracle. Wheres the hot spot? Mike asked the vendor as he fixed us our


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dogs. Uh, well Look at us, I told the vendor. Look at me, now look at Mike, now look back at me. I paused for effect. Now, what bar should we go to? The Bar-B-Q Bar, said the vendor. Three hours, five tequila shots, seven beers, and two failed seductions later, the bars all closed and mayhem filled the streets. We decided to flee and hailed down the first gypsy cab to cross our path: a van, labeled simply, Orlando Transportation. Can you take us to International? Sure, the driver said. As long as you dont mind riding with these kids, I got to drop them off first. So we climbed inside and the four local college students were happy to share their booze and pot with us. The driver sampled a little too. Rage Against The Machine blasted from the speakers and everyone talked at once. It took almost an hour for us to reach the locals destination, some suburban house, somewhere off the freeway. Everyone jumped out, we said our good-byes, and before climbing back in the van Mike and I urinated on their front lawn. Mike passed out as soon as we reached the freeway and the driver and I smoked more pot as he talked about how similar the situation in Iraq is to the Vietnam War. He talked about how it was better to work for yourself and he talked about home, Chicago. Whend you move to Orlando? I asked. Six years ago, he said. I came to visit and just never went back. I was silent. The driver glanced at me. He looked like a rabid Bloodhound and had only four giant, square teeth. Where are you from? he asked. I told him New York, told him about The Prattler, and our mission, and my altercation with the law in Celebration, and suddenly we were at the hotel. I woke Mike and paid the driver and as we stepped out of the van, the driver called out. Listen, he said. People like you and me, were different. We look a little different, and people are always going to suspect us, think we cant do something, think were doing something wrong. Ignore that shit. People are always going to judge you for not having their ethics. Fuck that. Just remember youre not wrong; youre just different.



PART IV Fathers Of Freedom, Mothers Of Homogeny, Children Of Capitalism, Unite: This Is Only The Beginning Of The End

The next time I visit Disney World, I may be a father. That thought scares the living shit out of me. But you know what? It might not be so bad. Children and adults alike stared at the sky above Cinderella Castle during the climactic fireworks show to conclude another day at The Magic Kingdom. Each face shared the same expression: uncontrived happiness. And I was no exception. When Mike and I entered the Magic Kingdom, we were foreigners, drug-addled cynics, contemporary artists in search of whatever Happiness we could find, all in the name of Freedom. But then, as a fiery Mickey Mouse head sparkled red and gold in the sky over the castle, something changed. All the capitalism, all the homogeny, all the exploitation, the bigotry, the corruption, the repression, none of that bothered me; none of that mattered anymore. All of that evil was trumped by the collective happiness of each and every family during the fireworks show. It was a beautiful sight: communal bliss. And I was a part of it. Happiness is a funny thing: fleeting, ephemeral, often superficial. And freedom the same. On the airplane back to New York, everyone has their toys: camelshaped guns, plastic eagles, reflective tiaras. All I have is a plastic bag full of half-empty bottles of rum and vodka and tequila, a full bottle of red wine stolen from Black Angus, and champagne, champagne Mike and I were saving to celebrate our return, our survival. Yes, we did it. We ventured to the pleasure peninsula, headed straight for the dazzling light that is the Magic Kingdom, the Happiest Place On Earth. And now, as our plane taxis on the runway these children slobber on their trinkets and toys as if the taste will postpone their departure. Well, children, it will. As will this rum. May we all choke on The Spirit of Disney as the plane touches down in New York.


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WH E N I N AM E R ICA, DO AS TH E AM E R ICAN S DO* * The Prattler. Volume 74, issue 2. November 2003.

n November 18th, 2003, Devin Budney, Daniel Giuditta, John Warren, and Jacob Severn issued a summons to The Prattler suing the publication to the tune of $800,000 for unlawful plagiarism of their intellectual property, as published in the article, We Built This Kitty, The Prattler, Vol. 74, #2, pg. 36. After a short-lived but fiercely fought legal battle between The Prattler and those aforementioned, The Judicial System of the State of New York found The Prattler guilty of plagiarism and enforced the $800,000 fine as penalty. Suddenly The Prattler was bankrupt and morally destitute. But The Prattler is a fighter. And The Prattler never gave up hope. And because this is America, The Prattler knew there was only one solution: The Prattler needed to sue someone else for $800,000. And at 10:07 PM on January sixth, The Prattler found its answer.



As many of you know, in early December, Law & Order: SVU shot an episode at Pratt Institute. This episode, episode 4412, titled Brotherhood, can be summarized as such: When the pledge-master of a hard-nosed fraternity is found murdered and sodomized, Detectives Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Christopher Meloni) believe the murder to be the result of the victims Internet porn site, which features unwitting college girls at a local bar. However, when the evidence points back to the fraternity, the detectives slam up against the wall of brother hood as the brothers are less than cooperative. Brotherhood aired on January sixth and seven minutes into the episode, Detective Stabler flipped through what was posed as the school yearbook. This school yearbook was indeed The Prattler, the Justice Issue, the very Prattler that included We Built This Kitty. And so The Prattler sued Law & Order: SVU for unlawful plagiarism of the intellectual property of Michael Force, then Art Director, and illustrator of the back cover of The Prattler The Prattler on Law & Order: SVU that appeared in the episode. On February second, 2004, Law & Order: SVUs attorneys decided to settle out of court and pay the negotiated amount of $800,000. The Prattler was saved! The Prattler would like to thank those who never lost faith, and never gave up hope, specifically the attorneys at Thaber, Hollist, & Reingold Inc. who donated their time and energy, as well as all the volunteers at Despite the actions of a disgruntled group of students, and in the face of a spin-off show of the longest running drama series on television, The Prattler prevailed.


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JOI N U S : A CALL FOR STAF F* * The Prattler. Volume 73, issue 5. May 2003.

he Prattler recognizes the challenges that we now face. We are winning the war against enemies of freedom, yet more work remains. We will prevail in this noble mission. Liberty has the power to turn hatred into hope. We are thankful for the love of our family and friends and for our rights to think, speak, and worship freely. We are also humbled in remembering the many courageous men and women who have served and sacrificed throughout our history to preserve, protect, and expand these liberties. The Prattler is a force for good in the world, and the compassionate spirit of The Prattler remains a living faith. Drawing on the courage of our Founding Father and the resolve of our fellow students, we willingly embrace the challenges before us.



The Prattler will lead by defending liberty and justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere. No corporation owns these aspirations, and no corporation is exempt from them. We have no intention of imposing our culture - but The Prattler will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law... limits on the power of the state... respect for women... private property... free speech... equal justice... and religious tolerance. The Prattlers strength and prosperity are testaments to the enduring power of our founding ideals, among them, that all men are created equal, and that liberty is Gods gift to humanity, the birthright of every individual. The Prattler creed remains powerful today because it represents the universal hope of all mankind. The Prattler will take the side of brave men and women who advocate these values around the world because we have a greater objective than eliminating threats and containing resentment. We seek a just and peaceful world. Steadfast in our purpose, we now press on. We have known freedoms price. We have shown freedoms power. Join us, in this great conflict, my fellow students we, will see freedoms victory. You can now take that first step towards a career with The Prattler, where you can make a difference! Dont miss this opportunity, now that applying is free! The Prattler Corporation offers benefits, varied work assignments and unlimited opportunities. It doesnt tie you to a desk. It takes you into the community to meet people and resolve real world problems. The Prattler staff member is an individual with training in liberal and visual arts, crime prevention, narcotics enforcement, heartache, philosophical debate, forensic science, law, and youth relations. Prattler staff members may enjoy benefits including 20 paid vacation days to start, which increase to 27 paid vacation days after two years of service. There is unlimited sick leave with full pay, optional retirement at one-half salary after 20 years of service and an annuity fund collected with your pension.


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his next issue was the first issue of the year, a new year, new students, new freshman who didnt know The Prattler. Tabula Rasa, if you will. After this next issue, we on staff felt like we were on top of the world. Everyone loved it. During production our teamwork was tight and organized. We didnt even ask for outside opinions before printing, which I slightly panicked about when it was at the printer. But in combination with a class-less summer schedule and diligent work on everyones part, we produced what we thought was a sound, well-rounded issue. Upon distribution and those first waves of recognition, we slowly realized we had indeed produced our best issue to date. Along with my BET article (see The Post Orgy Dilemma in part two), Bezer and I wrote a Phish essay, and Jeff Campbell interviewed Donny Miller (later profiled against each other in Donny Miller Vs. Jeff Campbell as printed



in The Prattler Vol. 74, issue 4. March 2004). The issue also included the Welcome Freshman lists and a profile of Pratt dropouts. And we dedicated the last section of the issue to our late staff writer, and friend, Michael Mahoney.

As if Im piecing together events from a night of debauchery, I still freshly recall rare or random moments I shared with Mike Mahoney. One such memory: I ran into him once on the train and he told me he was having girl problems. And then he said, But you know what? No, what? I asked. At least I have girl problems.


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F UCK YOU, IM F ROM TEXAS : M ICHAE L MAHON EY (1983-2003)* * The Prattler. Volume 74, issue 1. September 2003.

ichael Mahoney was smiling when his heart stopped on a warm July evening as he listened to The Locust scream. I wonder what Mike was thinking as he passed on to another realm from The Knitting Factory floor wearing that trademark grin of his? Could he have gone any other way? Was the sensation like the moment of take-off, like he first dip in the Cyclone on Coney Island, like a wet dream? Mahoney says to me, and so much more. Mike was in line to be the next editor of The Prattler because he had the unique and necessary ability to change and improve as a writer, an unbreakable respect for the printed word, and the willingness to



work until morning without anything but Colt .45 to keep him going. What follows is a few thoughts from his friends and a small collection of excerpts of his final words, all of which exhibit his understanding of the absurdity of existence and his intensely Mahoney-style sense of humor. Enjoy. -Mike Force

EXCE R PT: Why I Write The night before the project was due, I was sitting in front of my moms word processor, staring blankly at the pages of notes I had gathered. I wasnt suffering from any sort of writers block. Rather, it was the monotony of this endeavor that confounded me so. I knew these facts about dolphins, and so did my teacher. Why even bother to put it on a few pieces of paper that would be browsed then stuck with a gold star? Still thinking about this, I started typing. The idea came to me: This is a guaranteed A, you might as well have fun with it. So, I decided to tell the story of a dolphins life from birth to death, from the first-person perspective. My goal was not to compile all the facts I had gathered. Rather, it was an experiment, an effort to fit the requirements into the story I was telling. It was difficult, but I finally managed to include the facts I had into this story of the way a dolphin sees its own life. I had never written anything lengthy and creative before, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I printed it out, turned it in the next day, and waited, anxious to see what the teacher would say.

Moshing was Michaels favorite work out. His brother, Jeremiah, and I introduced him to his first mosh pit when he was 13. It was at a Foo Fighters show in Austin. When he finally joined me at the end of the show, his sweat-drenched t-shirt sagged to his knees. He had even crowd surfed. He moshed whenever possible for the rest of his life. He died doing something he loved. His death on July 14 while moshing in Manhattan was attributed to a heart condition that caused his heart to stop pumping. He probably lost consciousness within seconds and died within minutes. Neither drugs nor


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a blow to the body was involved. Michaels death cannot be construed as a warning about moshing. He would be pleased to know that. - Jerry Mahoney, Mikes father

EXE R PT: Youre Either With Us And Fucked Or Against Us And Fucked Sooner Its probably important in times like these to keep your head held high, but Id rather smash mine against the pavement. Feel free to join me. Id rather live somewhere else, but if I go there and hated it, boy would I be disappointed. Potential for improvement is better than existing failure, so if we all keep perfectly still nothing will happen. Dont look around. I saw that. You looked... Can we at least agree that philosophy and ideals only lead to confusion and backwards practices? Good. That said, lets bomb things into nonbeing! No room for philosophy in the charred remnants of a gutted orphanage! What do we care that a temple exploded, erupting its deity-laden contents into the air only to careen downwards and smash a child returning home from school? That temple isnt for the correct god, and that child would probably have grown up to be another self-combusting heathen, so we have really made things easier for our God and for ourselves, and being good Christians, improving our own way of life enables us to spread our believes like flesh-eating locusts and eliminate Gods competitors. The righteousness of our destruction is nauseating and the justification airtight.




hat last night in The Prattler office with Nick, about five issues and eighteen months since Mikes death, I told Nick about a dream I had in which I spoke with Mike. You have those too? Nick asked, high on heroin. Yeah. I was at a party and everyone was in the living room and I went into the kitchen for a beer and Mike was in there and he was drinking a beer and we caught up like I hadnt seen him since before the summer. So you remembered each other? Right. But the weird thing was that I never saw his face. He was wearing his Fugazi hat and looking at the ground or peeling off his beer bottle label and he just never looked up. Weird. Yeah Nick lit a cigarette. In my dreams he always leaves early to catch a


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train to Connecticut or someplace, he said.

I was in Kansas City, Missouri, at the airport, about to board a plane for Seattle when I received a call from a friend. She asked me if I had heard anything about Mike Mahoney. No, I said. I think hes dead, she said. What? I just got a call from his brother and he said he died last night. The final boarding call for my flight sounded throughout the terminal.

I remember when Nick and Pierre and I spoke at a ceremony for Mike at Pratt. Thad, the director of the writing program, spoke too. We sat in the front row to the right of the stage and Mikes parents and brother sat in the exact middle of the auditorium. Other people, friends, professors attended the memorial. The president introduced Thad. Thad spoke of Mikes persona in the classroom and his talent as a writer and then introduced Mikes brother. Mikes brother told jokes and funny anecdotes about Mike before introducing Nick. And Nick said Mike was beautiful. And he cried. Then he spoke off the page and said some wonderful words, words that explained how unique Mike was and how genuine their friendship. When my turn came I read a short recount of one afternoon when I visited Mike and he had just woken up. That got a good chuckle. I said he was talented and compassionate. And I said I missed him greatly. Sometimes you know your words will fall short of any degree of truth and love and that makes it difficult to say anything at all. Mike was an inspiration to me. And I think of him all the time. While writing this book, during my lulls and bouts of listlessness or low self-esteem, I would think of Mike, and that kept me writing. And he still keeps me writing.




efore the summer of 2003, back in the spring, The United States of America preemptively invaded Iraq. I was interning at The Village Voice, and life often felt make-believe like a sad playground game. The war was on television every night. And during the day. Always in the morning. You couldnt ignore it. It was all around you yet you were nowhere near it. At The Village Voice, while each issues main feature was about the war, I spent most of my days opening mail and watching CNN. Beautifully detailed, computer generated maps where every road led to Baghdad Every story was about death. Feature articles written months ago were all pushed back for weekly Iraq updates from only the highest editors or embedded writers. Everyone was suffering. The war was everywhere. And no one could make sense of the world, specifically our country.



I drank a lot. Some mornings, afternoons really, it was all I could do not to puke up my coffee on the train. One day, I got to The Voice, went straight to the bathroom and took a sizable shit so dense and robust it clogged the toilet. So I went home. Sure I had a couple of clippings at the paper that spring, and I learned a lot about the war and Iraq and the history of civil disobedience and our rights as citizens, but it never got me a job. I didnt ever really want to work at The Voice. I just thought it was the best place to learn. I probably wouldve had a better chance climbing the ladder had I not taken two weeks off to go on Phish tour. Or if our country hadnt gone to war.

At Pratt my professor in woodcut printing assigned the class homework: make an anti-war print. And no one complained. Thats art school for you. I loved that class. While everyone else worked, my professor and I would hang around talking, comparing the Vietnam war to the war in Iraq. He was half-deaf so often times I just listened. Toulis, I think his name was. One morning in Touliss class, an administrative figurehead, some man Id never met before, entered the classroom and asked to speak with Andrew Smith. It was like high school: everyone, including myself, thought I was in trouble. In the hallway outside the studio this man, without introducing himself, launched directly into an interrogation. How do you think you can get away with something like that? he asked me. Excuse me? I suppose youll tell me you have an alibi for last night. Well, I said, thinking. I was at the bar for most of the night. Youre going to have to confess sooner or later, he told me. You need to be a man about this. About what? Just stop. Stop? Stop pretending. Look, I said. I truly have no idea what youre talking about. Im talking about the cannon! he yelped.


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The cannon? You mean to tell me you didnt paint the cannon! Someone painted the cannon? It wasnt you? No Then who was it? I have no idea, I said, laughing. Oh, you think its funny? he said. You think painting the campus cannon camouflage is funny? They painted it camouflage? Yes. I laughed even harder. And you just think its so funny. No, I said. I think its fucking amazing.

Apparently, as made obvious by my accuser, and later discovered to be true, someone during the night had painted the Pratt cannon, a fundamental sculpture on campus, war-time camouflage. And the administration tried to pin it on me. Why? Because in the Postmodern issue we printed a photograph series of the cannon from the sixties painted all psychedelic and flower-power. In the eyes of the administration, the editor of The Prattler had to be responsible for this heinous act of graffiti. So you see, sometimes theres war and war and war and war and then art. At the time, Diller + Scofidio had an exhibition at The Whitney. And The Guggenheim had Matthew Barneys Cremaster Cycle. I saw them both. And I wrote about them both for the War issue, the issue we produced in the spring of 2003.



Well, first I think The Prattler is what The Prattler is to the student body because it is the student body that is so important, and I think The Prattler needs to speak to the student body. It needs to be felt by the student body. One of the great privileges of youth and study and education is that there can be idealism. To me, it would be tragic to wipe away the idealism or to not reflect on it or discuss it. This is a fabulous timewithout the parameters of real life and pragmatics and professionsto express reach, and talk about those things that may be lofty. It sounds weird to say this but youve got free moments in your life to do that kind of expressing. - President of Pratt Institute, Thomas F. Schutte in response to the question, What is The Prattler?


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e were in Afghanistan but not yet Iraq. Mike Mahoney was still alive. I had a new roommate, Eric, but still lived at the same apartment on Classon. The brutal winter in New York with temperatures dropping below zero was finally subsiding and spring and spring break was right around the corner. It seemed like just a matter of holding on. For spring break I spent a wonderful week in Florida with Sam and Pam and Jake at Sams parents condo at a gated community and country club golf course in Boca Raton. We swam, meandered through Miami, hit up some flea markets, and our last night there, after the girls went to sleep, Jake and I sat on the balcony smoking a joint and watching a thunderstorm molest and assail the golf course. Before that last night, Jake and I mostly used that balcony to read and debate. At the time I was deep in the bottle of Cultural Studies. I was taking three very academic course taught by three serious intellectuals. I read



Hegel, Adorno and Horkheimer, Hardt and Negri, Habermas, Lyotard, Foucault

I focused almost solely on the nature of things, the essence of things, everything. I never categorized and yet I categorized everything. And more than most anything else, I wanted to get to the soul of The Prattler. I wanted to investigate its nature and discover its raison detre. We never really named the issue we produced that winter. It just sort of came into a Postmodern self-reflection. Some students criticized us of being self-indulgent and, Ill admit, we kind of were. But I really just wanted to inspire submissions to The Prattler. I wanted to make an issue that demonstrated the vast potential of The Prattler, even if we on staff didnt fully understand it ourselves. That was the best part of The Prattler. Whatever interested us or whatever we wanted to learn about, thats what the issue became. And for what we later named the Postmodern issue, we wanted to learn about The Prattler, its history, its legacy, and its potential. All in all though, underlying everything, I wanted to inspire people. I knew that some students looked at us on staff as a group of elitist potheads. And thats not to say we werent. With the Postmodern issue I hoped not only to learn what The Prattler has been and could be, but also to show that to those students who labeled us elitists. I hoped to get students excited about the possibilities of The Prattler. In hindsight, I think it was overly ambitious.


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The Prattler Vol. 73 #4 March 2003



Uncle Andy, plead my grubby-handed nieces and nephews. Tell us about when you met Hunter Thompson! You wanna hear about when I shook hands with Dr. Thompson? In unison: Yeeeesss! Back when I was in college, when I was living in New York, I... Awwww, you dont want to hear that one. Uncle Andy! Alright, alright... Why dont one of you get me a beer from the fridge while I get settled...

TH E VE LVET ROP E: DR. GONZO I N BAR N E S & NOB LE* * The Prattler. Volume 73, issue 4

he velvet rope snaked around the room, end to end and back again over and through the entire fourth floor of the Barnes & Noble. A stage, a meager stage set back against the wall with a banner advertising the event, was nothing like I had expected. But what did I expect? Something grander, something historical perhaps? Sure, the typical Thompson fans were there: the freaks, the geeks, gothic cowboys, hipster chicks, journalists, and vagabonds. The whole bookstore stunk of fervent camaraderie, singeing the nose hairs of the blind consumers sipping coffee with Lou Reed in the cafe.


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But Hunter wasnt going to read. He was only signing his new book, The Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century. It was five p.m. and they had already given away the two hundred (200) green wristbands that didnt even guarantee youd get your book signed. But we waited anyway. Some read Hunters book, some read other books, some ate, the hipster next to me payed his acoustic guitar. He wore sunglasses and played Dylan, The Velvet Underground, and Arlo Guthrie. He sang softly and it made a pleasant soundtrack for the freakshow. LOUDSPEAKER INTERRUPTION: Can I have your attention please. My second announcement in a series of endless announcements. Uh, once again, for everyone in this area, in the roped area, you need to have a green wristband. You cannot be holding a spot for someone else that does not have a green wristband. People beyond the ropes who are lined up along the edge of the room have either a green wristband or all the way in the back you have orange wristbands, can you hear me? We have no more wristbands to give out, which means that we have no more possibilities of anyone else coming up here to have a book signed. There may be some space in the middle for viewing and that is it. Im sorry to say. Actually, Im not sorry at all; some of these people have been here for hours. There are no photographs allowed on stage. You can take photos from where you are now, but not on the stage. Thank you. At exactly 6:40 p.m. the whole zig zag line of fans stood up. The anxiety grew to a roar. We were horny, foaming at the mouth. What will Hunter make of all this? How does a man walk into a mob of bohemians desperate to shake his hand, drink his booze, lick his face? Its been four (4) years since his last signing. Will he come out at all? At seven p.m. the crowd was stiff. We were frustrated by eight, and come the half hour a calm, a calm that walks the cusp of desperation and revolt, descended up on the crowd. Someone screamed: Duke! Flashes of light illuminated the far distant throng of late-comers. Those nearby applauded. Hunter had arrived. He turned the corner and shuffled towards the stage. He wore a pink dress shirt, white cowboy hat, exotic pants, and sneakers. He used a cane and Anita (his wife), to whom the book is dedicated and one of three blonde girls in Thompsons company. The throng of fans hooted and yelped as the great Hunter S. Thompson, sixtysix (66), ascended to the stage.



Sitting down, he rattled and knocked his cane against the table provoking an animalistic laughter from the crowd. To start it off, Anita and two other editors each read sections of the new book. Fearful of any correction of their reading from Hunter, the editors emanated fear. The crowd didnt want them and soon grew verbally abusive to which Hunter grumbled, Thats just rude.

After the exhaustive reading, Hunter played some Q & A with the audience. Why did you choose Johnny Depp for Fear and Loathing? Well, I uh... liked him, Hunter muttered. I liked him better than the others. They were good. But he was better. I also like the fact that uh... that he thought he could do it. A few more questions followed, all of which were completely asinine


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and dim-witted. Thats enough, Hunter grouched, tossing the crowd into the meet-n-greet book signing they had been awaiting. The crowed was relatively calm as they snaked through the velvet ropes leading to the stage where Hunter sat with his assistants/publicity agents/three cute blond girls who gave him massages, mixed him drinks, and fed him cookies. Suddenly, there was a commotion near the stage. Clangs and clinks sounded as the poles from a chain of red velvet rope fell to the ground. Fans gasped. Peering through the crowed, I saw a middle aged man clutching an empty bottle of Makers Mark flopping around on the floor. Had he finished that entire bottle of whisky? Indeed. This man was so drunk, his eyes has rolled into the back of his head. When the Barnes & Noble security came to take him away, his buddies picked him up off the floor and held him standing. This drunk man hung like Jesus from the shoulders of his line neighbors, guys he had probably, hopefully shared his whiskey with. But when he fell a second time, no one could help him up. An EMS team arrived, turned him on his side to induce vomiting but decided it would be best just to strap him to a stretcher and carry his intoxicated ass out of the prestigious bookstore. Goddamn... Hunter mumbled from the stage as the paramedics carried the drunk away. Goddamn sonofabitch, yup yup. On stage, Hunter performed as expected: random, seemingly acidinduced gesticulations, incoherent mumbling, possibly purposefully spilling drinks before requesting more, screaming, and cracking his cane against the table. Is this the true Hunter or has his persona swallowed him whole? Is he a puppet? A puppet master? Both? What happens when an innovative, certainly influential writer starts writing about himself? Stepping on stage to get my book signed, I felt privileged to be meeting the man, Dr. Gonzo, the man who rode with the Hells Angels, tripped face in Las Vegas, failed to bet on Dust Commander at the 1970 Kentucky Derby, exposed the Democratic campaign trail of 1972, and wrote a memoir in 2003 the year he turned sixty-six years old. Handing him my book, I thrust out my palm and asked, Howre you doing Hunter? He cocked him head back, raising his eyebrows and said, Howm I doing? Look at me! How the fuck do you think Im doing? Youre looking all right to me. Hunter sneered suspiciously at me. Asshole, he mumbled,



methodically signing my book. Im a fellow writer, Hunter, I started. Oh, uhmmm, uhm, oh. I write for my college newspaper and I was wondering if we could sit down for a quick chat while youre in town. Oh. Yeah, well... uh, yeah, talk to them about that, talk to her about that, hmmm. Okay. Nice to meet you. Yup... yup! So I met Hunters publicist, one of the three blondes on stage with him, and she gave me her business card. The emails we exchanged during the weeks following the signing amounted to nothing. I have yet to read Hunters memoir. And I still have one question: is this the beginning of the end?


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essage one. Received at three thirty one AM: Andy, this is your dad. I have some bad news. Hunter S. Thompson is dead. Just weeks before this book went to print, deep in the editing process, Hunter S. Thompson took his own life with a shotgun blast to the face. Message two. Received at eleven twenty AM: Andy Im sure youve heard. Im sorry for your loss... My friends, it was a sad day. Message three. Received at eleven forty four AM: Dude, can you believe it? Thompson blew his head off. He killed himself. What does this mean for our country? Call me when you wake up, asshole. That night I went out drinking with my old college roommate, Billy, his boyfriend, and a few others including Delida. We drank $1 beers at a



nearby bar and I thought maybe we should go back to my place and have a reading of Thompsons work but then I thought better of it and ordered another beer. And another. And then another. Message four. Received at twelve thirty PM: Today one of the last great literary minds took his own life. He will be missed. Let us hope it was a matter of illness and not depression. I guess Im happy for Hunter. He went out like he wanted to. You have to admire a creature like that. Anyone who has the foresight to realize life is merely a matter of free-will cannot be blamed for choosing to end it all before that free-will, through illness or weakness, is taken away. Message five. Received at twelve thirty seven PM: Andy, this is mom. Im sure youve heard by now, but I just wanted to talk to you, make sure youre okay. I dont know what this means for you, or for your book, but I just wanted to talk. I love you. One of my few living heroes died last night. Message six. Received at two eleven PM: What the fuck! What the fuck, what the fuck? What kind of world is a world without Hunter? Call me back. Hunter lives on. As a man, he was ahead of his time and wild beyond his years. As a writer, he was immortalized long before he died. Message seven. Received at three PM: Baby, give me a call when you get this. Im sure you know but I just heard and I dont know what to think. I hope youre all right. I love you. Give me a call when you get this. Im just give me a call. That afternoon I revisited my Prattler piece about Hunter and thought maybe I should rewrite it, give it a better context, a different feel, something less overcast and glum. But I didnt. I decided to let it stand as is, because, it seems more truthful now, now that its all over. Message eight. Received at three forty PM: Andy I dont really know what to say. I was hoping you would have something to say. This is all so I dont know. I just dont know. I feel like I dont know. No one lives forever? All things must end? Does that make any sense? Give me a call. Rest in peace, Hunter. Thank you for all youve given us.


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The Prattler Vol. 72 issue #2 April 2002



LACHAP E LLE AN D H I S P E R S ONAL DJ* * The Prattler. Volume 72, issue #3. December 2002.

avid LaChapelles photography studio is on the second floor of some old, faded, graffiti-riddled warehouse. I make the stairs and enter without knocking. The studio is somehow exactly as I expected it: enormous, hard wood floors, rough, bare walls, Radiohead playing softly from some unseen stereo, a shrine for a recently deceased friend, random tables piled high with laptops and phones that wont stop ringing, purple 2-D octopus tentacles, a light-up heart and knife tattoo, one analog high school clock, two life-size cheetah sculptures, and everyone is sitting around the table in the kitchen eating lunch. Beautiful people, women and men, everyones so hip and casual, chatting it up. Everyone is real friendly and conversational but David is irritated because people keep asking him questions.


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DAVID LACHAPELLE: Its easier to like things than dislike them. Its okay to like a lot of stuff. Its okay to like different genres of art, different genres of photography, different genres of music. It just makes life a little more fun if youre open-minded to different things. It doesnt mean you have to be scattered or unfocused in your work. Andy Warhol just really liked everything. And Im not trying to emulate him, I just find its an easier way to live. And it makes things much more interesting, much more fun. If you dislike a lot of stuff, youre constantly editing everything. If you like a lot of stuff, its just easier. I like originals, people who are trail-blazers, listening to their own thing, not following the pack. And they could be completely different from me. People are surprised when I like something different from my own style. Why? Because I dont imitate it, thats why youre surprised? In American were taught that if we like soemthing you have to devour it. I can enjoy something and love it, doesnt mean I have to be it. AP: Your mom was a photographer? DL: No, she just did snapshots, family portraits, but she turned them into big events, art directed our family portraits. She was living her fantasy through the photographs. She wanted us to look perfect, the perfect American family. We had special clothes we wore. We did pictures every weekend. Wed drive to places and pose in front of houses that werent ours, dogs that werent outs, cars that werent ours. Shed find scenic places to shoot. Wed go to country clubs we didnt belong to. And wed all be there posing in clothes we never wore, ya know, turtle necks, knee socks and little caps and have our hair combed. That wasnt how we lived but that was her dream coming as a refugee to America from Lithuania during the war. She was living out her dream through snapshots. AP: A wide-eyed youngster in the Lower East Side during the 70s hanging out with Warhol and such? DL: I think its that whole era, the era you grow up in I think thats the one that youre most influenced by. I was influenced by that whole time ya know, pre-AIDS, things were just really crazy and spontaneous and



people lived in the moment, people didnt have any cares about tomorrow, it was all about that night, ya know, tonight.

We didnt get a cane, David, it didnt arrive in the package. Well, we need canes. The pimps need canes, go find some canes!

AP: When did you know? DL: I went to high school for art and I was painting and drawing before I went there. That was the first place I ever picked up a camera and so I never finished drawing after that. As soon as I started taking pictures, I realized they were special and that I was on to something because all my high school friends were loving it, and ya know everyone was naked in the pictures and just doing this crazy stuff. I felt something right away. I felt that something good was happening right away. When I was in high school, I was really free. I was doing what I wanted to do. And those pictures are so much like the pictures Im doing now, its crazy. But then when I gout out of high school I put all this pressure on myself about trying to fit in and do what was gonna get me work and build a portfolio, and all this crazy shit instead of just doing what I wanted to do. And it wasnt until I really just stopped thinking about that stuff and had the confidence to do it for myself was when I really changed. AP: Growth? DL: Well, God its changed me a lot. I mean, you know, you just go through different things. I had something to prove with color early on, when I first started doing color because everything was black and white, I really had a statement I wanted to make and now I really dont have that anymore. My work has always been conceptual. The concepts have just gotten more mature and theyve just changed as Ive changed. I think what happened was I just got more confident. Im just doing it for myself now.

Whataya think, David?


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Good, good, good. But the arrows and the cocks need to be gold, you should know that.

AP: What is celebrity? DL: Celebrated. Celebrated person. The role that celebrities fulfill is to get our minds off the really serious issues of the day so we can focus on Winonna Ryders shoplifting. It takes our mind off the fact that were going to war and that the climates changing. We live vicariously thought celebrities. When theyre doing well, were happy for them. And when theyre doing well, were happy for them. And when theyre lives are a wreck, we feel like our lives arent so bad. AP: Is that a good thing? DL: Its always been around, its gossip, thats what it is. Its just another form of entertainment. AP: Like Warhol, can you create celebrities? DL: I dont know. The only person I feel that Ive done that for is Amanda Lempore, ya know. And I think a lot of the photos Ive done have added to someones career like Lil Kim and Pam Anderson. Smart celebrities realize that photographers are part of what they do. AP: Are you a celebrity? DL: No. Someone on a TV show half an hour a week is gonna be more famous than I am or Richard Avedon or Helmut Newton, Jennifer Anderson cant walk down the Mall of America without being mobbed. Whereas, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon and I can go skipping holding hands in the middle of that same mall and people wont bat an eyelash. I chose not to be in front of the camera. I dont do any press unless its related to photography. People always ask me to do these stupid things, like, ya know, be a judge for the Miss World contest, or do this or do that. And I wont do anything that is not related to photography. My goal isnt to be on Hollywood Squares. Im not trying to be a B level or C level celebrity. I want to be an A level photographer and thats it. I dont want



to be famous, I want to take famous photographs. AP: Magazine cover vs. gallery show? DL: Ive always wanted to work for magazines. The hole gallery thing is something new and I like that too. But I made a conscious deciusions not to be an artist and to be a commnercial photographer. But theres this big distinction in the world and you just cant get around it Ya know, I feel like its pretentious to say, Oh, Im an artist. Its like, Im a photographer and I love photography and I like working in magazines. I love the immediacy of it, I like the pace, I like the deadlines, I like the craziness of the lifestyle, I like flying around the world, I like the hecticness of it, the insanity of it, the sleepless nights. Im hooded on that adrenaline, that rush that it provides. I didnt want the art career because its a little to precious for me. Cause I started showing galleries, the very first thing I did in New York in 84 and I stopped.

You want the models nails painted? Yes. One black and one gold. Thats gonna take some time. Jesus, its getting late. Were gonna be here so late.

AP: Next shoot is copying a scene from Taxi Driver, copy imitation, reproduction, unoriginal? DL: Taxi Driver isnt a contemporary photographer working in a magazine today. Ya know what I mean? Taxi Driver is a film that is so famous and everyone knows it. What Im doing is Taxi Driver if the movie had been like four hours long. I want to do other scenes, take those characters and do more scenes. Give you a taste of some of the pictures in the film and taking it a little further. Just because I love the film, its so iconic. It represents a time when I first got here when I was a kid and I lived in this neighborhood. I dont want to literally do Taxi Driver because thats not exciting enough. I want to take those characters and if the film had been longer or there were outtakes, different scenes. AP: Ever paid for sex?


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DL: No, but Ive been paid for sex. I was a male prostitute when I was like eighteen to save up for cameras and stuff. I used to make money doing it, I lived pretty well off it one season. AP: Use any drugs? Prescription drugs? DL: No, I dont take pills. Well, I mean sometimes, if I get manic. I do, just to sleep really. Drugs are more of a block; they block you from thinking, they dont give you inspiration or ideas. I think people take drugs to escape and not to think rather than to get ideas, to escape from pressure. When I was fifteen or sixteen, I mean, I was like a hustler so drugs were always around, my friends were drug addicts, my friends died of heroin overdoses. And I came back to this neighborhood when I was eighteen, and it was a fucking hellhole. I lived in a squat, had no electricity, no telephone, no lights, my best friend Berry died of a drug overdose, shooting heroin, my best friend Brett who was a bike messenger, gave me my first bike in New York, he died of a heroin overdose and so did his brother and they were in their early twenties. I didnt really do drugs. I tried everything when I was a kid but then I stopped and didnt do any drugs for years and years and years and then about four or five years ago, I had so much pressure that I started just doing it to relieve pressure like getting fucked up one night, like going out to clubs and doing blow and getting drunk was like going on vacation, but the problem is because you stop thinking, and youre just out of it and you have to wake up in the morning and you try to function and you cant. Theres just other ways to do it. I have much more fun going out to clubs when I dont do drugs. Just dancing. Good music is the best drug, thats why I have a DJ here, heres my drug dealer. Seriously, Im not kidding. I used to think blow was gonna give me energy for a shoot, but it just took away energy in the end and it just made me a wreck. And music, I could work until six in the morning with the right music and Ill still be on point, ya know. And thats true, Im not trying to give you some spiel. That work that the kids saw at Pratt, the 500 slides, the videos, if I was doing drugs none of that would have happened. How could I have gotten that work done if I was on drugs? It wouldnt have happened. Im an old guy, I couldnt have done it. Getting fucked up just gets you nowhere, you cant work and you cant think. But Im not anti-drug. Ya know, sometimes you get tense, sometimes you need something to chill you out, sometimes you need a



drink, a glass of wine is a great thing, just fucking relax, you know.

I put the beer in the fridge, David. Fine, just dont drink it out of the can, put it in a cup. Theres just too many alcoholics around today. If my assistant sees that, were never get anything done. Hes a serious alcoholic, gets the shakes and shit.

AP: Politics? DL: Well, I think that theres two ways, one is to read the newspapers everyday and watch CNN and to get yourself completely riled up about shit, but if youre not gonna actually go and physically do anything about it, youre wasting your brain, youre wasting your life. Just to be an observer of it and comment on it, I dont think youre getting anywhere. I stopped watching the news just because it was so full of shit, its so slanted. Were being fed so much fear, its Bowling for Columbine. I read one news weekly, its called This Week, I highly recommend it. I feel like Ive already been through a war, growing up in the 80s in New York City with all of my friends dying of AIDS like everyone I knew. Im having my second childhood right now, Im having my twenties over again right now in my thirties and I just dont want to get myself caught up in this fucking war, if Im not going to go out and do anything about it, Im not gonna just read about it. AP: Responsibilities? DL: The only responsibilities I have are my, ya know, your own personal responsibility to the people around you and stuff. I mean, charity starts at home. Ya know, its like go out and save the world and then come home and kick your cat. I try to be a better person to the people I work with and the people Im friends with. I wouldnt use my talents to sell something I completely didnt believe in, like fast food. Youd never see me doing a McDonalds commercial, I dont care if they paid me millions and millions of dollars. Ive done car ads and Ive done cigarette ads, my parents met working in tobacco, so I kinda feel like I wouldnt be here if it wasnt for the tobacco industry.


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AP: Good taste? DL: Theres this whole virus going around in fashion photography, ya know theyre just too cool for their own good. Dont worry about being cool. Dont worry about falling on your face, dont worry about doing something cheesy, dont worry about all that shit. Its just about taste. Its all the Pottery Barn idea of like, ya know, white walls and dark wood floors, its like, yeah, we all have that now.

David, were ready. Great, turn up the music.



hat interview was printed in the Faith issue, my third issue as editor, a thin brown bible with gold inset on the cover. Some of us staff members dressed in button-ups and neckties and stood by the campus gates handing out Faith issues to students leaving for winter break. Everyone really liked the design, how the layout matched the content. The issue contained articles concerning faith in revolution, faith in education, faith in art, religious faith, cults, Unitarian schooling, and even getting arrested for possession of pot. But it was a bitch to design. We stayed up all weekend putting it together and making the final edits and plugging in the LaChapelle interview that came late in production. I dont think weve made better Prattler since then. Certainly tighter,

glossier issues would come. And they would be funnier and better written, but the Faith issue marked a turning point for us. We had finally upped the ante. Or perhaps we were just beginning to consider the vast potential of The Prattler. Or whatever.



was shirtless and smoking one afternoon in the office when a student stopped by to drop off his resume for the position of staff writer. I reviewed his cover letter. He seemed qualified. And I told him Id call him. His name was Ben LaRocco, a graduate student who wanted to review the student art exhibits on campus. He started working right away. Even now as I write this anthology about The Prattler Im still perplexed as to why more students didnt apply or at least submit. But fuck them. I am grateful and more so impressed by those who did. People like Ben. On rare occasions I was pleasantly surprisedmaybe about four times throughout my time as editorwhen someone submitted something to


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the publication and didnt necessarily want a job. But there were a few people like Ben, people like freshman after the Welcome issue whom we hired and they wrote willingly and consistently and responded well to criticism and came to the meetings. And by meetings I mean they liked to drink beer in the office and talk about the content. But sometimes it was like pulling teeth to get a few hundred words out of a writer. Sometimes a writer just wouldnt come through forcing us either to write something at the last minute, or, more often than not, drop in another image. We depended on people and sometimes they didnt stick to their commitments. Even when we were working on the Freedom issue and Mike and Bezer were having trouble figuring out how to make it 3-D, they started to move away from the idea all-together. They thought it would be too difficult to make the issue 3-D. But I knew they could do it, and I knew it would be amazing, so I went ahead and ordered 1,500 pairs of 3-D glasses as incentive, encouragement, some tough motivational love.

I learned so much in those years at The Prattler. I learned about the obvious logistics of writing, design, printing, staff management, advertisingalthough I fired our business manager after the second semester when we discovered all the advertising money went straight to Student Activities. But I also learned about planning, and working with friends, and collaboration, and the type of work that could be reduced to experiment or prank but in reality it was our work at The Prattler that taught us our true potential as artists, craftsmen really, but mostly collaborators. I was nineteen years old, twenty years old, twenty-one years old pushing myself harder than ever. The Prattler, college, The Voice, during the war, drinking like an alcoholic, and all that. At my busiest, I drank twelve cups of coffee during the day, a pint of rum every night, and slept usually no more than four hours unless I skipped my morning classes or simply stayed up through the night.

Its almost five in the morning. You can barely focus on the computer screen and the office stinks like stale cigarette smoke. Through the window you can see the sky, once black, now purple and almost blue. Youve been working on an article, something youre enjoying, but the



pressure is on. The issue is going to print in less than forty-eight hours and your article needs to be perfect. Anything printed in quantities over a thousand should be perfect. Theres no reason why it shouldnt be. And so youre still working, still editing, revising, re-writing. Youve been in this room since dinner time, since sunset and now the earth has completed its rotation and the sun is here again. You have class in a few hours. Coffee would help. Or beer.

Before Faith we made a coming and going book themed Optimism and Pessimism. Id been reading a lot of Adbusters magazine at the time. The twin towers fell only months earlier and ashen dust still coated the top of my bookshelf and other places overlooked when I went to dusting away the airborne remnants of a thousand dead people. For my second issue as editor, the Optimism/Pessimism issue, Mike Mahoney and Mike Force each wrote articles about the end of the world. Mike Force also wrote an article about the resurgence/death of painting. We printed the Unibomber manifesto and an excerpt from the screenplay for Dr. Strangelove. And I interviewed recent Pratt graduate and former Prattler editor, Alex Smith. Author and cartoonist, Alex Smith is currently enrolled in The New Schools graduate poetry program. He is also the editor of Red China Magazine. And were still friends, partied at his place this last New Years.


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AN I NTE RVI EW WITH ALEX S M ITH AUTHOR, E DITOR, CARTOON I ST, & MAN* * The Prattler. Volume 72, issue 2. November 2002.

ow do you feel as a member of the first graduating class of the Writing Program at Pratt?

Well, I mean, its all a big crapshoot when you think about it, where youre gonna end up after college. Id say around junior year I realized I wasnt gonna get paid for anything that I wanted to do, which some may say is a product of <COUGH> ya know, being the first class, being the guinea pig of the program, you get into a lot of trouble. Youre the ones who have to deal with all the failures of the program in its initial years. And so, I dont think its necessarily a really proud thing, graduating. I think its more of a mourning, a mourning for what could have been. Ya know <COUGH> Pratts told me I cant make it! Its impossible!



Career services cant help me! Career services has nothing for M! I dont have anything going for me right now. My writing has gotten progressively worse. Tonight, when I go home to work on a story Im writing for class, I know that my heart wont be in it. I lost the respect of my classmates long ago. I dont know where my dog is. <COUGH> I dont give a fuck about anything, nothing matters to me, I just dont give a fuck about anything I think a lot of people write and drawl and make things artistically quote unquote because they cant communicate normally through dialogue with people. And thats the failure. It all stems from a problem, a malaise if you will, of human communications. And I feel like I suffer from this malaise. These things, <COUGH> these things are giving me a huge cancer and I can feel it growing inside my belly. I mean, as a doctor would say, as my father would say, theres no actual cancer growing inside me right now. Yes, Ive had the occasional cyst on my penis or rear end but those are benign. What does the future hold for Alex Smith, writer, cartoonist, and man? Id like to believe that somewhere down the line, maybe after a couple of years of graduate school where I work my ass off for nothing or when I become maybe a teacher or a journalist, working my ass off for nothing, somehow itll all pay off or maybe somehow Ill become famous and women will like me again as they did when I was in my teens. I dont do well with women, I never have. I think that despite all of the things we say, all the public outcry and protesting, well still wind up in those offices, working in institutions, being a part of administrations, a rat race, a ladder, a hierarchy, well still be subscribing to it, because well knock up some girl or some girl or someone or something, whatever, well get knocked up and well have to take care of a child. And love isnt the answer to shit. Love doesnt mean a goddamn thing in this world. The only thing that matters is money and bullshit and if you can make money with bullshit, then youve got something. And thats why I came to Pratt. And all I learned is that you cant trust anyone and that self-destruction is very attractive, the essence of cool, and that people die right across the hall from you of a heroin overdose. <COUGH COUGH>


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orking at The Prattler as a staff writer under the leadership of Micki and Alex as editors was a completely different experience than when I was editor. Under Mickis leadership the office was clean and professional: no smoking, no drinking. We had weekly Tuesday lunchtime round-table meetings of the entire staff to talk about the upcoming issue and as the weeks went by the issues progress. I rarely attended those meetings and when I did it was mostly just to be around Micki. Micki was beautiful. And she soon started dating Alex, they moved in together, and thenas all relationships that dont turn into marriages they broke up and she moved out. But theres also Dana To date, Dana is one of the most beautiful women Ive ever seen. And she was a genius, as Im sure she still is, out there in Oregon or wherever shes landed. Dana was the editor before Micki, if only for a few issues, and when



Micki joined the staff Dana took a step down and her title was something like arts editor. But that was really early on, back when I was only a staff writer. When Micki and Alex were graduating and ready to pass the torch, Dana was already onto some other shit. The decision was up to Alex and Micki and even though I was determined to usurp anyone they chose over me, I gave it my all to outshine my competitor, another staff writer named Katrina. In the end, I became editor and Katrina remained as a staff writer for a few issues until she slowly phased herself out, at which point I made a proposal: Katrina, I said. Do you like getting paid? Yes. But you dont really want to write anymore? Not really. Okay, how about this? I asked her. Ill keep you on payroll if you keep me in pot. What? If you bring me a twenty sack of weed to every meeting and pretty much whenever I call you, Ill keep you on pay roll and you wont have to do anything. Really? Really, I said.

But back to Dana. One afternoon I ran into Dana on campus and she was a little downtrodden, said her long-term boyfriend just dumped her. Long story short, she lost her mind that day. The following events are absolutely true. At my apartment we were painting mushroom clouds and atomic bombs while she periodically called her landlord and screamed at the top of her lungs about the health hazard of the iron bars on her windows because what if there was a fire. Then she took her clothes off and not soon after that, painting naked in my bedroom, she had her period. Borrowing a pair of my pants, she left in a rush, not embarrassed but definitely frazzled and not well. As the story goes, she went to her boyfriends, now ex-boyfriends, and explained to him that she was having the miscarriage of the second coming of Christ. He suggested she go to the hospital, specifically the


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mental hospital. She said she would and left his apartment. But she didnt go to the hospital. Instead, she went to the ATM, withdrew her entire accountsome $1,000and hailed a cab. She then told the cabbie to take her to the number street of the age he wants to be when he dies. He started driving north and around 130th Street he stopped saying he probably wouldnt live much longer than that. Dana thanked the cabbie, handed him a thousand dollars, and exited the cab. She was in Harlem, well past two in the morning. A limo drove by and stopped. The driver, seeing this beautiful white woman by herself late at night in Harlem told her to get the fuck inside and then drove her back to Brooklyn, back to her ex-boyfriends apartment who then took her the hospital where she spent two weeks in the psychiatric ward. I last spoke with her about three years ago. She called me from her parents house in Portland and told me she was heavily medicated and feeling better, but not yet well, just happy to be out of the hospital. But how are you? she asked. No complaints, I said. No more STDs? she asked, laughing. Not yet, I said.



NON- GONOCOCCAL U R ETH R ITI S : DONT LET IT HAP P E N TO YOU* * The Prattler. Volume 71, issue 3. May 2002.

couldnt wait any longer. I hadnt pissed all day and the cranberry juice I had with dinner didnt help. My bladder was going to explode. I prepared myself by taking a series of deep, cleansing breaths and walked to the bathroom. I clutched the towel rack with my left hand as I carefully unzipped my fly and pulled out my cock. A drop of mucousy discharge clung to the tip of my member. The inside of my cock tingled in a bad way, like an insatiable itch. Just get it over with, I told myself and began to piss. Instantly, the itchy irritation intensified into an excruciating burning. It felt like I was pissing out red-hot razorblades, hundreds of them. Tears welled up in my eyes. I squeezed the towel rack so hard my entire hand


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turned white. I focused all my energy on forcing out as much urine as quickly as possible. I felt like I was giving birth and it was all I could not to scream in pain. Then, it was over. I had pissed. I took a deep breath and released the towel rack. My hand was cramped and pale, completely useless. I gently tucked my cock back into my pants before flushing the toilet. I splashed warm water on my face and concentrated on breathing to calm my rapidly beating heart. Looking in the mirror at my completely colorless, war-torn face I realized this was not a mere urinary tract infection. No, this was much worse. The cranberry juice binge I imposed on myself during the last week was all in vain. Sure at first there was just a mild discomfort below my belt, but each day it grew and grew until six days later I dreaded taking a piss like some dread the dentist, like urinating was the Chinese water torture. The next morning, I had my dad drive me to the doctor for a 7:30 appointment. The mornings were the worst. Just the slightest movement or adjustment made me think my cock was filled with broken glass or molten lava or something worse, something beyond my imagination. Pulling into the hospital parking lot all those damn speed bumps Why you fuckin skanky bitches? My dad asked. I just shook my head. Of course, the first thing I had to do for the doctor was piss in a cup. I gave myself a pep talk and wrung out a few drops, crying only a little. Handing over a cup of my infected urine, my lava-piss, I felt good. The worst was over, now all they had to do was give me a prescription and Id be healed. Then the doctor pulled out a catheter. We can either do this now, or have you come back another time, he said. I opted to get it over with but in hindsight, I wish I had gone back, heavily medicated, intoxicated, anesthetized, completely fucking numb, because if it hurt that bad to simply piss, imagine how it felt to have a cold metal rod shoved up your cock. The doctor sat in his chair and made me stand over him with my pants around my ankles. My cock shrank in fear and a slimy icicle of discharge oozed out. Whoa, the doctor said placing latex gloves on his large, hairy hands. That looks bad. I didnt laugh.



Im going to insert it and keep it in there for the count of ten. Okay. As he manhandled my manhood, I stared at the organ chart on the wall: pastel-colored illustrations of the heart, lungs, stomach Now take a deep breath I looked down, something you should never do, and saw the doctor insert the catheter down the throat of my sickly cock. Holy fuckin Christ, fuck! One two The agony was blinding. I had never even imagined such pain could be experienced without loosing consciousness. Three Seven more seconds and Ill be dead. Four It was torture. I couldnt escape the pain. It consumed me, both body and mind. It felt like he had shoved a spoon inside my cock. No, a fucking rusted ladle. I couldnt breathe, I couldnt see; my existence was the pain. Ten. And it was over. I returned to the world, the doctors office. I felt nauseous and for a moment feared I would either throw up or pass out. I made myself release the desk and pull up my pants. Then, I breathed, realizing it had been a while. My jaw hurt from clenching my teeth. You can sit down now, The doctor ordered while he dropped the instrument, the torture device, into a plastic bag labeled with my name. We wont have the results for a few days but Im going to write you some prescriptions now because I think I know what you have. Whats that? I asked, relishing in painlessness. The tests will say for sure, but it looks like an inflammation of your urethra. It may be Chlamydia, but probably just non-gonococcal urethritis. And whats that? The doctor removed his gloves and washed his hands while talking to me over his shoulder. Its basically an allergic reaction to a type of bacteria, usually Ureaplasma urelyticum or Mycoplasma genitalium. So what do I do? Im gonna give you a juice to drink and some pills to take. One pill you take right away, Doxycycline to take twice a day for a week or so, and Im gonna give you something to help you urinate. Itll make you


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numb down there and turn your urine bright orange, but itll eliminate the pain. Sounds good. And that was it. The urine test revealed an inflamed urethra and the catheter test came back negative. I took the pills, pissed neon orange for a week, and was healed. One night of drunken, unprotected sex yielded a week of agony and regret which climaxed with catheterization. I was fortunate to only have contracted non-gonococcal urethritis, an extremely painful yet easily curable disease. Now, I no longer fear pain.




had Chlamydia once too. About a year after that whole NGU business. But this time I didnt get the disease from some dirty, drunken floozy. I got Chlamydia from my girlfriend, Jessica. We had broken up, then gotten back together, but during the interim she fucked this guy named John and John gave her Chlamydia. And then she gave me Chlamydia. For those of you who havent had the privilege of contracting a venereal disease, the window of opportunity is about four to six weeks after the act of coitus. And wouldnt you know, about five weeks after I first had sex with Jessica again, I woke up with what looked like a strawberry growing off the head of my cock. And it hurt like a sonofabitch. That night I went to have drinks with my freshman year roommate, Billy, before hitting some party. Billy, I said. I need you to look at my cock. Id rather not, Billy said.


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I pulled down my pants and Billy cringed. Then he laughed. Dude, he said. That doesnt look right. No shit, I said, looking down. The strawberry had grown. And yellow gunk was dripping out my cock. Thats three times now? he asked. Twice, I said. Three strikes and youre out, he said. I hadnt planned on telling Jessica at the party but after a few beers and a piss, all the painful memories of my friend NGU came rushing back to me and it was either tell her or hit her. So I told her. But I got tested, she said. But she said. Maybe that yeast infection wasnt a yeast infection after all. The next day we went to the emergency room at Brooklyn Hospital. I was hung over and pissed off. The waiting room was crowded and I felt like people recognized me. Jessica sat and read magazines. They called my name first and I stepped back into the room of many curtained beds. The nurse gave me a bed, closed the curtain, and I waited for close to an hour before a doctor pulled back the curtain and stepped in. Lets see what we got, the doctor said. He was African American. Clean-shaven. He smelled like suntan lotion, and I flashbacked to that pond outside FMA in North Carolina. I thought about Megan Kennedy. I showed him my penis. Okay, good, he said, scribbling on his clipboard. Any drug allergies? No. Any recent illnesses, pains, broken bones? No. Any recreational drug use? Do you count pot? He looked at me. Yes. Then yes. Anything else? No. In the last six months?



The last six months? Yes. Well, just a little coke. And mushrooms. Pills, mostly uppers, adderal, dextrin, that sort. He looked at me again. Do you smoke cigarettes? Yes. I heard a man moaning and groaning from outside the curtain, probably behind a curtain of his own. It says in your chart, the doctor said, you had urethritis before. About a year ago. Okay, he said. Ill be back. I sat again in my curtain cubicle for about twenty minutes listening to all the goings on of the ER. Metallic clanging, feet shuffling, doctors whispering, patients arguing, English, Spanish, Yiddish. A large African American man with dreadlocks opened my curtain stepped in and closed it behind him. He held in his hand a needle as long as my forearm. We can do this however you want, he said. You can stand, sit, lie down, or whatever, but its going in your butt. I think you have the wrong room, I said. Youre Andrew Smith, he said. This is your shot. No, you see, I get the pill and the juice. Like last time. No, you see, you get the shot. You dont have the pills? Not for you, we dont. What? Repeat offenders get the shot. And only the shot. I sat staring at him. He stood there looking down at me sitting on the medical bed. He knew my cock was sick. He knew. I took it standing. And it wasnt so bad. The doctor left immediately, leaving me to crane my neck over my shoulder to try to see the puncture wound in my ass. That wasnt so bad at all. My ass started to throb. My legs cramped up. I sat down on the bed, then my stomach started to hurt. I felt lightheaded. I lied down. Suddenly I went numb below my waste. I couldnt feel my legs. I couldnt even move my legs, I was paralyzed. I thought I might pass out or puke or puke and then pass out and choke on my vomit. I couldnt move! I was dying! I was having an allergic reaction to the medicine! I was fucking dying!


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Doctor! I screamed. Nurse! Someone fucking help me! A calm, cool and collected mulatto woman stepped inside my curtain. Whats the problem? she asked. Im having an allergic reaction to the medicine! Oh no, honey, youre just fine, she said. All thats normal. Youll be back to normal in about thirty minutes. If you think youre gonna puke, do it on the floor. She turned to leave. They dont call it The Abstinence Shot for nothing, ya know. I was in a state of total paralysis. My whole body cramped up. I couldnt breathe. But I rode it out. In thirty minutes I was back in the waiting room where Jessica was still reading magazines. They havent seen you yet? I asked. They saw me, she said, standing, leading us out of the hospital. How fucking awful was that shot? What shot? They didnt give you a shot? No, she said. They gave me some nasty juice and a few pills.


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uthor of six books of poetry, The Basketball Diaries, and Forced Entries, a documentation of his time working for Andy Warhol, Jim Carroll is respectfully acknowledged in university English classes and practically worshiped in some circles of the Lower East Side. Born in New York City in 1950, Carroll started writing what would later become The Basketball Diaries when he was only 12 years old. At 15 he was working the door and collecting donations at St. Marks Poetry Project. By 16 he was the adopted sidekick of Ted Berrigan and spent the rest of his youthful years hobnobbing with such legends as Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Alan Ginsberg, Patty Smith, and Bob Dylan. On stage at Memorial Hall, Jim Carroll looked like the anorexic, vampirish lovechild of David Bowie and Mr. Burns, but I guess heroin



will do that. It always makes me laugh to see someone over fifty wearing a tight-fitting black leather jacket, let alone velvet pants. After an amusing anecdote about his Marin County friend who, when Carroll paid him $100 to have a high colonic, expelled a plastic, green toy soldier you know the kind Carroll read an excerpt from The Petting Zoo. Then, with one leg bent and on tiptoe, posed like a school girl kissing the microphone, Jim Carroll read a piece entitled A Day at the Races, from Forced Entry. It was about Carroll and his girlfriend, Jenny-Annes discovery that they had crabs. Jenny-Anne went to Pratt, actually, He added, interrupting the story and strengthening the rumor that 2/3 of Pratt has an STD. Jim Carroll read a few other poems, including Eight Fragments for Kurt Cobain, and Poem. When questions ran dry during the Q&A after the reading, Anne Waldman pressed students to ask about the state of the world. Theyre art students, they dont care about that stuff, Jim Carroll responded. They just wanna get the money for their film. After the reading I caught up with Carroll for a moment to ask if hed like to invest in my documentary. I asked him a few other things too: AP: How do you feel about being labeled a Catholic Junkie Poet? JC: (quick, loud exhalation) Uh, are you talking about that cartoon from Playboy? AP: Exactly. JC: I dont know. Thats when I was doing rock and roll and I mean fame was on such a different level then. I mean, theres hardly any poems that have anything to do with drugs in Void of Course I dont think. I really dont have The new novel Im working on has nothing to do with any drugs, except a made-up drug. The guy doesnt take any drugs actually. His rock star friend, he takes drugs of course. But basically hes the Dionysian side of the same person. I dont know why that sticks to me when theres people who like Ya know, I mean, David fuckin Crosby all his life almost died so many times from drugs, it just fell off him after a couple of years! I dont know why it sticks with me so much. I mean theres the Kurt Cobain poem but its


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kinda like I had to and it was about him not me, just my own affinity to it. But I dont worry about stuff like that, I cant, ya know? AP: How bout some quick word associations? JC: Okay. AP: The New York Times. JC: Big. AP: Bob Dylan. JC: Big. AP: Basketball. JC: Disappearing. I dont have as much interest in it. AP: The internet. JC: I uh not. AP: Patti Smith. JC: Smell. AP: Smell? JC: Not that she smells bad. I just know her smell. She has a very distinct smell, its nice




ver Christmas break in 2000 in Seattle, I told my parents that I planned to write for The Prattler and then take over as editor. They said, sounds good. A few nights later I went with some friends to a Wesley Willis concert. And I decided I would interview Wesley for The Prattler. This interview and article was the first step towards achieving my goals as a student writer. To do justice to The Prattler, and to also pay my respects to the late, great songwriter, Wesley Willis, no amendments have been made to the following article.


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WE S LEY WI LLI S : TH E MAN, TH E MYTH, TH E LEG E N D* * The Prattler. Vol. 71. Issue 1. February 2002.

he sky pissed on us the entire walk to the venue. But thats Seattle; only in hindsight does the rain annoy me. During that walk, I didnt care. I barely noticed. I couldnt stop thinking about how each step brought me closer to the man, the musician, the legend: Mr. Wesley Willis. My first encounter with Willis compositions was at a University of Washington party. In the two years since that party, Ive grown to love such classics as Suck My Dogs Dick, O.J. Simpson, and Ford Winstar. Needless to say, when my friends and I heard he was playing a show, we bought a disposable camera and headed to the venue, a misty, dank club called Graceland. I was excited not only to hear a live performance, but also to meet



the man behind the Casio keyboard beats and profane second-gradereading-level lyrics. For two years I could only imagine the stature and mental disposition of Wesley Willis. At the concert, I was to come head to head with the man. Literally. Upon my entrance to Graceland I was immediately forced to join a crowd that had gathered around the Wesley Willis merchandise table. There he was, backed up by $20 T-shirts depicting his face. Enthralled, I pushed my way to the front of the assemblage for a better view. The man was huge, at least 400 pounds. Wesley Willis had the eyes of a lunatic and wore headphones around his neck. In one massive hand he held both a plastic cup of orange juice and a clump of $20 bills. Then, we made eye contact. You! Wesley yelped at me like the post-September airport security nazis. Say rock! The mob looked at me in anticipation. Rock, I complied. Say Ruuull. Roll. Now, gimme a head butt, Wesley ordered. I just smiled at the brute. Come gimme a head butt! With a push from behind, I timidly approached the musician. Sweat was cascading down his face. It rolled over the mountainously mysterious, discolored callus in the center of his forehead and poured into the cavernous scar etched into his right cheek. His eyes rattled as he licked his lips and stretched his tree trunk arm out to greet me. His moist, meaty hand clamped around the back of my neck and for an instant I feared for my life. I couldnt determine whether the nauseating stench was his breath or simply his signature scent. Say rock! Wesley said. Rock? Phumpt! And suddenly I was blinded by a pain that originated in my forehead and reverberated through my entire skull. When I regained my sight, the only thing in my field of vision was Wesleys lump, the color of fertile soil. (It looked like the skin-covered foundation of a unicorn horn.) Say rowoule, Wesley commanded. Roll, I repeated, prepared for the second head butt. Phumpt! (This time the pain was dulled by Wesleys cat-like forehead rubbing). I


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mimicked his movements and placed my hand on the back of his slimy, hot-dog-pack neck. The more I responded to Wesley, the harder he smashed his callus against my forehead. After five minutes of repeated head butting, I was feeling faint. After ten minutes, I was telepathically pleading to be rescued. Finally, after fifteen minutes of ruthless, rhythm-less cranial collisions, the beast released me. He smiled like only a schizophrenic can as I wiped my forehead and stepped back to seek refuge in the crowd. Then, the poster-child of post-grunge butt-rock stepped forward and offered his forehead to Wesley. During my marriage with Wesley, the mob had formed a line, similar to the communion lines from my Catholic school years. Everyone believed and wanted to unite with this creature, their god, Wesley Willis. Horrifically intrigued, I stood aside to watch the congregation and assess my injuries, both physical and mental. My fascination birthed questions: How does this man function? How does this man even exist, let alone have such a frighteningly devoted following? Who takes care of Wesley, the disturbed soul that he is? Simply being in Wesleys presence presented some answers, but I realized I would need to talk to the man himself. After patiently watching him head-butt one adolescent after another, we were alone. AP Smith: Wesley, I was wondering if I could talk to you for a few minutes before you went on stage. Wesley Willis: Yeah. Okay. Motherfucker. Im about to go on stage and rock this shit in the mix! AP: It wont take long. WW: Wanna buy one o my CDs? AP: I would if I had the money. Howd you get that scar on your cheek? WW: Some asshole sliced me. AP: Someone attacked you? WW: John Dillard sliced me for dope money. He was robbing me and I locked him up! AP: John Dillard? WW: No! A stranger. Then I knew it was John Dillard and I locked him up for twenty-five years. AP: You picked him out of a police line up? WW: I picked that fucker out the mix and had my dog suck a donkeys



dick! AP: I see. WW: Ill make your dog suck my donkeys dick! Wesley began to spastically shake my hand and pat me on the shoulder as if he didnt know how else to end the interview. He was sweating even more than before and periodically pawed at his face. Beads of sweat dangled from his mustache. AP: What effect did the WTC disaster have on you? WW: I wrote a song about it. AP: About the disaster? WW: Osama Bin Laden. AP: Whats the song titled? WW: Osama Bin Laden! (Singing) He is a stupid fucking jerk! I hate stupid terrorists! Wesleys Tourettic impulses were beginning to make me uncomfortable. His shifty eyes were disturbing, his breath pungent, his obesity unsettling, but I could tolerate all that. It was the constant arm slapping and hand shaking that was bothering me. I felt like the enemy, some outsider whom Wesley could not understand and consequently feared. AP: How did your music career get started? WW: 1981. AP: Um, thats when it started? WW: Yes. 1981. AP: And someone suggested you start writing songs? WW: Ive been making music since 1981. AP: Right You just started recording in your house? WW: I just started making my CDs. Wanna buy a CD? AP: You already asked me that. At that point, I thanked Wesley for the interview and walked away without looking back. I was disgusted. It wasnt Wesley Willis physical appearance or even his psychosis that disturbed me. I can deal with that. But when an obese schizophrenic is thrown on a bus, carted all over the country, and sandwiched between a pile of CDs and a box of T-shirts, I get upset. I get nauseous. And then


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people line up to head butt him. Attending the concert, I expected to prove my theory: Wesley Willis is just another faux-nutcase with a record deal, taking advantage of the cynical and vulgar humor of todays youth. Kinda like Adam Sandler. Instead, I found a deeply troubled, heavily medicated man with only a vague understanding of reality. There is no doubt in my mind that some capitalist is behind the scenes pushing Wesley on stage every night. Before meeting Wesley, I wanted a T-shirt. I wanted to grab Willisvirgins and make them listen to Rock N Roll McDonalds. I laughed out loud every time I heard one of Wesleys songs. But now that Ive experienced Wesley Willis through other senses sight, touch, and smell I no longer love his music. I cant even listen to it anymore. I left Graceland that night with the foul taste of shame and disgust in my mouth. I smelled like I had just come from the Coney Island freak show. My head hurt, my heart ached, and I knew there was no returning to the nave world of Wesley Willis appreciation.

TH E P RATTLE R 2001-2004

ompiling these articles, revisiting those three years of my life, this whole section, writing it and piecing it together has been a rather rewarding endeavor. When you can collect a section of your work, essentially a section of your life, a larger scheme is made apparent. Cause and effect, really. Everything youve accomplished in your life, every decision youve made, all those prior moments preceding years have brought you to exactly where you are at this very moment. And its invigorating to realize that. Ive since graduated from Pratt. I no longer work for The Prattler. That era is over. And a new era has begun.



Im pulling the pavement from under my nails I brush past a garden, dependent on whales The sloping companion I cast down the ash Yanked on my tunic and dangled my stash Zipping through the forest with the curdling fleas To grow with them spindles, the mutant I seize I capture the dread beast who falls to his knees And cries to his cohorts, asleep in the trees Smegma, dogmatagram, fishmarket stew Police in the corner, gunnin for you Appletoast, bedheated, furblanket rat Laugh when they shoot you, say Please dont do that Control for smilers cant be bought The solar garlic starts to rot Was it for this my life I sought? Maybe so maybe not Maybe so maybe not... -Tom Marshall and Trey Anastasio, Phish lyrics


boarded the plane and sat next to a tall man cramped in his seat in row nineteen. I said hello, immediately pulling out my notebook not only to write out the events of the last few days, but also to avoid a potentially inescapable chat with a Southern Stranger. Where you headed? he asked. Home to New York, I said. We proceeded to chitchat fittingly until I noticed he was wearing the same purple T-shirt as most of the overweight, middle-aged passangers, in fact, the exact same T-shirt as every single man sitting around me. Are you an athlete? I asked. No, he laughed. Were missionaries. Our leader organizes these trips to Romania every year to build buildings and feed food to the gypsies. This is only my third year but some of them have been nine and ten times and our leader has been all over the world. His T-shirt breast pocket insignia was a map of the world, eastern and western hemispheres, split by a Christian cross. Yeah, its something, you know, he continued. We go over there and build houses and churches, even though were non-denominational, we have Christians and Baptists and Church of God, and well, its just


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that these gypsies have endured generations and generations of racism and persecution so that they stick to their own. The Romanians dont even understand why we come to help them. They say, why are you helping the dogs? A lot of people think we have it pretty bad over here, but I think we just take a lot for granted. I think youre right, I said. Thats amazing what youre doing. The Southern Stranger nodded proudly yet modestly, like a good Godfearing Christian. What were you in Virginia for? he asked. Family? No, I had a court date. Traffic ticket? No, I said. I was arrested for selling beer at a Phish concert. Phish, huh? he asked. Did you go to their last concert up where it was? Vermont? Yeah. That was a great time. Bittersweet, but I have no problem with them calling it quits. They picked up after The Grateful Dead, right? Kind of followed what they were doing? In a sense, I guess. There are a lot of similarities between the scenes. The Dead were certainly first but I dont really think of Phish as Grateful Dead Junior. The Southern Stranger laughed and pretended not to notice that he elbowed my arm off the armrest. So youd just follow them around from show to show? Sometimes, I said. How many shows have you seen? Around fifty. But its a different show every night? Yeah. Yeah, it is. And he nodded, and I nodded, and then nothing. We were both silent. The chitchat was over if I wanted it to be. I thought for a moment. Tell me more about the gypsies.


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PART ON E Thieving WaWas & Waffle House Rendezvous: On Trial Near Naval Base Norfolk

here was no ATM at the Days Inn. The one at the Red Roof Inn was out of money, and the ATM at Hooters was out of order. My buddy Brian and I were tired of walking and wanted to head to the lot, so he gave me the ticket and I told him Id give him the sixty as soon as I sold some beers. Brian, a sharp-nosed, business-type Wall Street intern, is a nice guy like that, always willing to help out a friend. On our way we stopped by his hotel room where I took a shit and we sat to smoke a joint. Sylvia couldnt make the show? I asked. Sylvia is his girlfriend, a sweet girl whom I met once in Miami. Shes sick, not doing so well, Brian said, separating the blue pills



from the yellow pills in his hand. He picked out two and tossed them in his mouth; I did the same. Shes got leukemia, probably only a few months left. The pills went down hard. Im sorry, I said. Brian nodded, spilling out another bottle of pills onto the wobbly hotel room table. Want some morphine? Sure, I said, eating more pills, and watching Brian pour some cocaine onto the table and roll up a twenty-dollar bill. After a few rails we left to meet up with the rest of his people standing near his car in the hotel parking lot drinking beer from red plastic cups. I recognized all of them from shows past but only remembered Bubbas name. He looked like a Bubba: stocky, fat even, with enormous hands and beady little eyes. Everyone was happy to see each other and we drank a few beers before walking towards the lot, towards The Mothership. The Mothership, or Hampton Coliseum, is a fantastic place to see a concert. On the outside it looks likes a giant crown, concrete and stoic in its symmetry during the day, and extraterrestrial at night. Different colored lights illuminate the hollow recesses of each equilateral spire, and the coliseum seems mere seconds from lift off. It brings to mind space travel and especially so for those of us who believe aliens built the pyramids. I also believe aliens built Hampton Coliseum. All seating is general admission and there isnt a bad seat in the house.

The first time I went to Hampton Coliseum was with Sam for the New Years run 2002. On New Years Eve in New York we didnt score a ticket for the Madison Square Garden show but we didnt give it much effort. Instead we simply people watched and drank tequila and when the tequila was gone we left the Garden and took the train to a house party in Williamsburg where we danced and drank champagne until five in the morning. Three hours later we were in a cab to JFK. At the terminal curb I couldnt even smoke a cigarette, I was so hung over, still drunk really. The tequila/champagne crossover is an ugly one best avoided. I was prepared to shit or puke at any moment. And then we boarded our airplane: a sparrow puddle jumper with seats for twenty-two passengers. Sam and I had seats 1A and 1B, facing Victor, our smooth-faced African American flight-attendant whose seat bottom folded out from the wall opposite our seats. During take-off, my kneecaps rattled against Victors kneecaps but he kept his eyes closed.


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Sam and I stunk of booze. Our bodies were on the verge of violent purging and collapse. God damn right Victor kept his eyes shut. Eventually, Victor stood up, resumed his attendant duties, and the airplane took on a highpitched hum and vibrated at such a cadence that if you focused your eyes on the window pane the glass went fuzzy. I felt drunk all over again and my own stench made me salivate, what we all know as a foreshadowing and often a point of no return type of mouth-watering before vomiting. The whole flight was rough and as we pulled down to land, only about fifty feet and closing from touchdown, Sam lurched forward and yanked the air-sickness bag from her seatpocket next to Victor and puked only what sounded like a mouthful but smelled like disease and sour milk, dead flowers, and it was everything I could do to keep myself from following her lead. One time I watched my friend Sparky in Seattle puke on a public telephone so I puked on it too. We were already drunk when we hit the bars and after a few $2 pitchers of Red Dog, some hash we bought, smoked, and lost on the street, and an altercation with a gas station clerk, we came across a payphone near the university campus. This was just after payphones made that ten cent leap from twenty-five to thirty-five and Sparky, just like you and me, made a nemesis out of each and every payphone he saw and the payphone that night was no exception. In our stupor we hammered rocks at the silver change box to take back what weve spent since the increase, but we didnt even scratch it. Then we found bigger stones and threw them at the machine but that made only small dents in its armor. Finally, Sparky announced that we should just fucking puke on the thing and hurled a nights worth of alcohol, stomach bile, and what looked like meatloaf all over the payphone. Your turn! he yelled, not bothering to wipe his chin. But on the airplane I didnt puke, a good thing because as soon as Sam folded the top of her soggy airsick bag she reached for mine and puked again as we taxied on the runway. Victor, the professional that he was, announced the temperature and time without missing a beat, all the while handing Sam wetwipes and napkins. I gave him a little slap on the thigh to show I was impressed and he smiled nervously. Once again, I hope you arrive safely to your final destination, he said over the intercom. And if youve reached it here, welcome to Norfolk. We took a cab from the airport to the hotel I booked near the Naval Base. Percy Widget, our cab driver, yes, that was his name, white rat-tail and large rings on his fingers, was once in the Navy, had never been to



New York, and just loves to drive. Norfolk, like Fayetteville in North Carolina, is a town comprised of and sustained by the military. Like most military towns, a poor neighborhood with little development surrounds the base. Our hotel was situated in the most desolate part of that neighborhood next to a boxshaped building with no markings, only a neon Budweiser sign in the window. We said our thankyous to Percy and entered the lobby, which looked just like a living room: area rug, paintings, empty cofee cups. An Indian couple sat in matching recliners facing the afternoon soaps on television. Little dialogue was exchanged; our room was ready, we checked in, paid cash. Once in the room I fell onto the bed and my eyes shut closed. Even in that long-anticipated surrender of willpower against exhaustion, I could tell Sam had not moved from the doorway. Okay, Ill admit it, the room was below par. The sheets were dirty and pockmarked with cigarette burns, brown smears on the walls, the toilet water was yellow, and the room smelled overwhelmingly like an open field on a summer day. I spent a few minutes trying to persuade Sam to stayits just three nights, weve paid, all thatnothing worked. We took a cab to another hotel in downtown Norfolk and stayed on her parents dime. At three in the morning, when she was sleeping and I was watching a movie, an air raid siren sounded and I didnt know what to make of it or the strobe light flashing on the wall. It was a fire alarm of the most ghastly sort. Sam stayed in bed, but downstairs myself and one other middle-aged Phish fan stood sleepless in the lobby. We exchanged nods. I think he made some joke, and we talked about how far wed come and what time we arrived. When the alarm stopped he said hed see me tomorrow and we rode different elevators to our rooms. The next day around noon Sam and I hitched a ride from the hotel to the coliseum and our entrance was smooth and unimpeded unlike when I returned three years later. I jumped ship a few hundred yards from the Waffle House and walking along the freeway, past parked cars and trucks and vans weighed down by patient and anxious half-drunk twenty-somethings listening to classic rock music and Phish concert bootlegs, I smiled at a half-dozen roadside loiterers with raised index fingers hoping someone would sell them a ticket. Miracle seekers. I would have joined them if Brian hadnt promised me his extra ticket.


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Besides, I had no cash after the incident at the Wawa gas station so when I found Brian, after we hugged and smiled at each other, we went looking for an ATM.

Earlier, at the Wawa gas station/convenience store, after eating breakfast at a different Waffle House, I decided to stock up on beer and cigarettes to fund this last run of concerts. After Hampton we planned to drive to Mansfield, Massachusetts for two shows, then skip Camden and drive straight to Coventry, Vermont for the Phishs final concert, a two day festival and I needed to buy enough to sell enough to get me through to the end. I shopped wisely. The beer would have to be bottles, some variety, a nice domestic and a something cheaper. I chose Yuengling and Budweiser and carried case after case to the counter where I requested a few cartons of Camel Lights, Marlboro Lights, and Marlboro Reds, in all $300. I had just over $100 cash, and so I withdrew $200 from the ATM. But when I was paying, I realized the ATM only gave me ten ten-dollar bills and looking at my receipt, yes, the machine charged my account for the full $200. The gas station of the South is not that much different from the gas stations of the North or the West or even Middle America. When driving day and night, every day and night, fluorescent lighting can come to be a source of comfort or nourishment. The gas station is a sanctuary, a provider. And when that ATM ripped me off at the WaWa in Virginia, I felt scorned, betrayed, as if my own mother had thrown me out on the street. Your ATM robbed me! I told the clerk. Sorry, he said. But he didnt really mean it. You can talk to the manager. I argued fiercely with the Wawa manager but no money was recovered or reimbursed and after causing a general fuss that worried some of the customers, I finally gave up. I borrowed a hundred dollars from Kelly, paid the $300, stole six bags of ice, and we boarded Tims GMC Yukon to drive the last twenty miles to The Mothership. I didnt have a ticket for the concert. I didnt have any cash. I owed Kelly $100. I owed Tim $45 for gas. I had no pot. But I what I did have would resolve each of those dilemmas. $300 worth of cold beer and cheap cigarettes would yield me profit to the degree of which I would make, subtracting my own consumption, enough money to come out of



tour with the same amount I had going into it. But thats hardly ever the case. In Miami for the 2003 New Years Run, Sams little brother, Jeff, and I sold beer we bought at Costco in bulk and made $400 profit the first night and almost $200 the second night and would have done better but that second night there was a lot of nitrous around and I got caught in the pitfall of trading beers for balloons. The third night, after the concert, Jeff and I made almost $300 in twenty minutes. The dynamic of supply and demand in Phish lot is interesting because theres never a shortage of either. For every person selling beer, there is someone buying beer, and thousands of them. Ive been on both sides of the scale and Ill tell you something: if you plan on driving 2,000 miles, seeing a dozen concerts, paying for gas, food, and lodging, you better have something to sell along the way. Bartering works too, especially amongst veteran fans, but selling beer and cigarettesthe only two legal substances almost anyone will buy even if it means spending their last five dollarsis the most lucrative business on Phish tour. When Brian, his friends, and I reached the lot I split from them to find Tim and get my beer. At six feet, ten inches, with long burnt red hair and matching goatee, Tim isnt hard to spot in a crowd. I found him talking with an old friend with whom we had planned to share a hotel room at Camden last year. We didnt find him that night in Camden, or he made himself scarce, and we ended up sleeping in the car because there was no room at the inn. I wasnt interesting in catching up with that asshole so Tim gave me the keys and told me where he had parked. Soon, I dug out Caras skateboard to rest the hundred pound cooler on top to roll the beer to Shakedown Street, the main drag of the parking lot, where all the vendors and pushes loiter.

You tell me this town aint got no heart. well, you can never tell. The sunny side of the street is dark. well, well, well, you can never tell. Maybe thats cause its midnight, in the dark of the moon besides. Maybe the dark is from your eyes, maybe the dark is from your eyes... Nothin shakin on shakedown street. used to be the heart of town. Dont tell me this town aint got no heart. you just gotta poke around. You think youve seen this town clear through. Well, well, well, you can never tell.


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Nothin here that could intrest you. well, well, well, you can never tell. Its not because you missed out on the thing that we had to start. Maybe you had too much too fast. maybe you had too much too fast... -Lyrics to Shakedown Street. (The Grateful Dead)

Shakedown Street comes in many shapes and forms but is nothing more and nothing less than a market place, a meeting ground, the main drag, community square, a walkway where T-shirts, alcohol, drugs, artwork, paperbacks, concert tickets, glass-blown pipes, and food exchange hands. Anything you need or want on Phish tour can be bought or traded for on Shakedown. The economy of Phish tour, especially for those of us going from show to show, is primarily isolated and self-sufficient. If you were to follow the path of a dollar spent on Shakedown, chances are it would still be circulating on Shakedown four concerts later, across three state lines. Excluding the initial capital for a pusher to buy a pound of marijuana or a vendor to buy the ingredients for 200 chicken gyros, all the money on Shakedown stays on Shakedown, unless, of course, you spend it on $8 beers inside the venue or your intentions are solely to make back the money you spent on tickets through either mail-order or God-forbid Ticketmaster. Standing next to my opened cooler at the tail of Shakedown in a less populated, less vendor-regimented area, I drank. In no time at all, people were buying my beer. As soon as I put the cash in my pocket someone else wanted a beer. For a moment someone selling Magic Hat beer stationed himself nearby and stole all my customers but business picked right back up again. Occasionally I sold a pack of cigarettes. And when Brian and Bubba found me I had more than enough to pay Brian for the ticket and I gave them both a beer. Doing well? Brian asked me. Well enough, I said. Can I have another, Andy? Bubba asked me. He had already slammed his beer. How much? some long-haired hippie boy asked me. He was holding his wallet and the crowd of people milling behind him had doubled. The lot was filling up. One for three, two for five, I said, pulling out two beers. He gave me a five, took his beers, and walked away.



Howre you feeling? Brian asked me with a crooked smile. Not bad, not bad, I said. The coke had worn off but the uppers were working and in combination with the blues and the morphine, I was feeling somewhere between super-quick and a-okay. Can I get two? someone asked me. Sure, I said and we traded beer for cash. Here, Brian said, holding out his closed hand. Im gonna take another beer. I pocketed the pills he handed me and asked if I could buy some coke. He shook his head no and instead dug out a thumbnail-sized blue baggie and handed it to me. Just take it. It looked like half a gram. Thanks, I said slipping the baggie between the cellophane and the box of my cigarette pack. Can I get a beer? someone asked Brian. Yeah, he said, handing him a beer for three singles. Then he handed the money to me. Brian and I chatted about the drive down and made guesses as to what song Phish would open with and Bubba disagreed with everything we said. I opened a beer for myself and lit a cigarette and suddenly a rush of patrons blitzed my cooler and I couldnt sell them beer fast enough. Brian and Bubba helped and when the mob subsided, they gave me my money. Thanks for helping guys, I said. But in the future, just direct them to me. Its just too many hands, too many exchanges, just point them to me next time. Then someone else wanted a beer and after the transaction I turned to Brian who just sold four beers to some middle-aged man wearing a neon pink strip club T-shirt and an American flag baseball cap. The man handed Brian a ten and stood still for a moment before turning and walking aimlessly. When Brian tried to hand me the ten, I refused to accept it. You just sold to a cop, man! Im not touching that money. What are you talking about, its fine. No, I said. Its not fine. I looked around for the arriving smackdown but saw no one in the crowd who looked out of place. Looking back at Brian, I watched two plainclothes police officers show him their badges and then a third officer showed his badge to me. All three cops wore T-shirts and jeans and had five days growth on their face. Through the crowd I could see the American flag hat next to a uniformed police officer.


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If you coorporate, you can still go to the concert, the officer told me. Now grab one end of the cooler and come with us. No problem, officer, I said. Cops are like lovers: if you put in just a little effort and consideration, itll come back to you ten fold. Most of the time. Brian was a little more aggravated than me and verbally resisted the officers who obviously wanted to make this as clean and unnoticeable as possible. Just come with us, the cop said. Brian, lets handle this, okay? I said, remembering the pot, blow, pills, and cash I had in my pocket. You have ID, son? Sure, officer, I said and handed him both my military ID and my drivers license. Grab the other end, the officer ordered.


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I grabbed one end of the cooler and tucked Caras skateboard under my arm and walked with the plainclothes cop behind Brian and the other two arresting officers. As we walked away from Shakedown and through the lot only a few of the Phish fans we passed were aware of what was happening. Of those observant concert-goers, some glared and snarled at the police but many more looked at me empathetically but relieved, relieved that for at least this one short moment they were out of harms way. Washington state, huh? the cop asked me. He put on his sunglasses. We were walking farther and farther away from Shakedown. Youre a long way from home. Actually, I live in New York now, just finished college and thought Id catch one more concert before I started my new job, I said, proud of my pandering. Whered you go to school? Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. What kind of school is that? Its an art school, I explained, happy to keep the chitchat going, hoping that I looked sober, more importantly that I sounded sober. The uppers were losing against the morphine and I was beginning to think my speech was slurred. I studied writing. What kind of writing? All kinds. Mostly travel writing. Youre not gonna be writing about this are you? You bet I am, officer, I said. That comment ended our chitchat. We walked in silence, sharing the weight of the cooler. My grip was weakening. How much farther? Not far now. I saw the destination: a black van parked by itself in the farthest corner of the parking lot where other plainclothes cops waited for our arrival. The reunion of this law enforcement team was one of celebration, a mission successful; these men had returned with the hippies they sought out. Why dont you just have a seat here on the cooler, Andrew, said my officer. Just sit tight. And he left to join the rest of them with Brian on the other side of the van. When I was massaging the aggression out of my cop, who knows what foul language Brian spat and now I reaped my reward, alone on the cooler, they searched and interrogated Brian behind



the van and out of sight. I looked over my shoulder but saw nothing. I contemplated eating the pills or tossing them and the blow but decided instead to relax, take a deep breath, and open a beer from the cooler. While I sat drinking a woman walked by and offered me ecstasy, rather Molly, a slang term for pure MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy. No thank you, I said, smiling. She trotted off and I finished my beer. I glanced again over my shoulder and made eye-contact with one of the arresting officers who stared at me until I turned away. Twenty minutes passed and long after that, as soon as they finished with Brian, my coolerpal cop approached me with a form he had filled out and squatted down next to me to ask for my signature. I cant sign that, I said. Its not an admission of guilt, the cop explained, rubbing his face, the stubble that obviously itched him. Its just to say that you know you have a court date to appear for. Why do I have a court date? For selling alcohol without a liquor license. But I wasnt selling alcohol. Listen son, the cop said, scooting closer and removing his shades. You have to sign this. If you dont sign this I have to arrest you and you will spend the night in jail. I read it over and signed. And now, our officer says you were selling cigarettes too. I remained silent. Can I look in your sack? He was referring to the plastic bag I had full of cigarette packs. I handed it to him. Whered you buy these? Wawa. In Virginia? Yes, sir. I watched the cop inspect each pack checking for state seals, and he was satisfied to find them. I tell you what, he said, putting his sunglasses back on. Im gonna let you keep your cash, usually we take everything you have. He waited for me to thank him and when I didnt he continued. And Im gonna let you keep your cigarettes, but I have to take your cooler. I cant let you take the cooler, I said. Its not my cooler, Im


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borrowing it. And what he said next, he spoke in that tone that allows you to hear what the speaker really means. Its like when youre talking to someone and youre not really listening so you just keep saying uh-huh, what youre really saying is shut the fuck up. What this cop said, in that special tone, caught the attention of the other cops and they gathered around us. Then he said it again: Excuse me? But what he really meant was What the fuck did you just say to me? Officer, Im sorry, I said. Take the beer, but I cant let you have the cooler. The three cops stood with their hands on their belts and looked at each other. Neither one wanted to speak first. I dont have a problem with that, do you? one said, scratching his ear. I dont have a problem with that, said the other, rubbing his eye. Okay, open it up, said the last, rubbing his mouth. I had ten beers left. Yuengling, but less than a case, and the cops started removing the bottles and placing them in a box with what looked like two cases of other miscellaneous beer bottles. When there were only five or six bottles remaining in the cooler I asked the police if they would be kind enough to leave me just a few for myself and my friend. I dont have a problem with that, do you? one said. I dont have a problem with that, said the other. Brian came around the side of the van and stood nearby. He was silent, perhaps scared or beaten into submission. The poor bastard looked broken. It was time to leave, and leave with what we still had. I closed up the cooler and plopped it on the skateboard and was ready to push off when the asshole American flag cap cop approached me, saying, Hey! Hey! Yes? He got right up in my face and with sour breath and a pointed finger against my chest he said, You owe me ten dollars. I almost bit his fucking nose off. But no, I used restraint and simply gave him ten dollars, not the ten dollars that Brian still held, but ten dollars toll to make my escape. Walking away, Brian cursed and blasphemed all the way back to Tims car. They had searched him, found everything, confiscated everything, even the sixty dollars I paid him for the ticket. He was pissed and I had



no desire to reprimand him again for selling my beer to a police officer. The morphine was really on top of me.

Throughout centuries of gypsy persecution, non-gypsies have created laws aimed at keeping gypsies on the move or at least away from town. Gypsies the world over have been targeted as criminals, if only because theyre gypsies. This lawful segregation and oppression and alienation doesnt in fact deter the gypsies; it only pushes them to the fringes of contemporary society. These laws do not impose conformity but rather frustration and anger on both sides. I hit Shakedown to warn a few friends I knew were selling beer. I know, a buddy said. Its like Im selling drugs! One friend I warned promptly removed her court summons from her back pocket, displayed it proudly, and we hugged. Ill be damned if Im gonna show up tomorrow! she said. Your court date is tomorrow? Isnt yours? I checked my summons. Those bastards know none of us are going to be in town tomorrow! she yelped. Goddamn them! Those bastards, I mumbled. Need any Molly? my friend asked. Suddenly I was jumped on from behind and heard screaming in my ear. It was my friend Selene and she was with Cara. Thanks so much for getting my girl down here! Selene said. Anytime, I said. Didnt I tell you he was amazing? Cara smiled, slightly embarrassed. Cara and I had just met and she seemed interesting, a lively Long Islander, definitely burnt out. She looked like she may have been cute at one time but drugs and tour had sucked all that out of her. Or maybe not all of it. She was a friend of Selene, who I knew from college, and when Selene called me to ask if I was making it to Hampton she asked if I could find a ride for Cara. The day before the concert I called Cara and asked her to meet me at Union Square where Tim would pick us up. Tim was already forty minutes late and Cara and I had run out of topics to discuss. The New York City street crowd stomped past us with occasional looks of curiousity or contempt.


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You dont have a cup do you? Cara asked. No, why? We should be begging for change right now, she said. Everyones looking at us like were homeless. I was sitting on my giant pack with my sleeping bag rolled up at the bottom and Cara had her skateboard, a purse, and a purple plastic bin full of 150 already-made veggie burritos. A sign maybe, I said. You dont have a marker do you? No. Me neither. More people walked past frowning, not missing a beat in their steps or conversations. The next day on Shakedown in Virginia Cara, Selene, and I smoked a joint and drank some of my friends beer and bitched about the cops and then I took Cara back to Tims car so she could stash something. What it was she didnt tell me and I didnt ask. That would have been rude. At the car, locking up, a dirty, strung-out tour rat approached us. Hi, Cara, you look well, he said.



Hi, James. You look like shit. Youre always so pleasant, Cara, he said, with knees bent as if he expected to faint at any second. His sweatshirt, stained and torn, thinning, looked like it was the only top he owned. Where are you sitting tonight? Im not sure yet, she said, ushering me along, walking us away. Its always a pleasure to see you, he called to us. Clean yourself up, James, Cara replied, linking arms with me as we walked. Thats my ex-husband, she said. Looks like hes still on the horse. I didnt say anything. The pills and the booze were working nicely. I was glad to have linked arms with her. Glad she had an ex-husband. Glad she was talking as we walked through the parking lot, down aisles and between cars, cars with license plates from New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, and very few from Virginia.

The Hampton show was to be my forty-somethingth, maybe forty-fifth or forty-sixth Phish show and while to some of you reading this that may seem like an excessive amount, I know that some of you have seen two or three times that. By no means do I claim to be an expert or an aficionado. I know only what I know about Phish tour and wish to tell a tale of my experiences and observations of that subculture, that community. Above all, know this: I go to Phish concerts, like most people, for the music and all else is lagniappe. Each show is different, and that spontaneity, the connection that occurs between audience and musicians after a series of concerts, the familial community, all of that lengthened my time on tour and today informs my recollections of those years. And the show that night at The Mothership could have been better. Phish played lazily that night. Sure the audience was tired from the drive, but we were also excited to start this last run, one final tour. Everyone I talked to the next day said the concert disappointed them. Even six weeks later at my rescheduled court date, my newfound courtroom pewmate said, That show really just wasnt worth it. That kid, that poor kid, he was facing a possession charge and when he stood before the judge the arresting officer read his report and it was apparent that the kid was fucked. They found a baggie in the glove compartment of his car because he was smoking a joint when they pulled him over. Fucked. He stood there quivering and in his defense he read


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from a folded photocopy of Virginia legislature. He claimed innocence on article 17.8 C: marijuana is constituted by vegetative growth and not the seeds or steams of the plant. Basically I smoked it all and so there was none left so... Im innocent... Someone in the courtroom coughed bullshit. Mama Judge looked up at the courtroom then at the kid and slammed the gavel. Guilty, she said and suspended his license and fined him $155. I twitched in the pew. Something just didnt seem right. Im facing a $500 fine if found guilty for selling beer and this tadpole possesses marijuana, was caught using marijuana, and gets off paying just $155? The side door of the courtroom opened and I watched two fat, black bailiffsone looked just like the cop in the Die Hard moviesescort into the courtroom a lanky, shaggy haired twenty-something wearing an orange jumpsuit and leg shackles. He had deep-set eyes and walked comfortable in the bailiffs arms, like he had been doing it for weeks, probably six weeks, the six weeks since the concert. I made eye contact with him as the bailiffs sat him down. He leered at me, then mouthed the words, I need a cigarette. Then he flashed me the peace sign. A woman from the second pew stood up and met with a man who was obviously the kids attorney. They asked Mama Judge for a moment to discuss the charges. The judge left the room and the hippies attorney talked with the prosecutor while the hippie and the bailiffs talked about Chappelles Show. I eavesdropped on both conversations catching what I could. The attorneys were planning a compromise involving some loophole in the legislature that would allow him to go free today despite being arrested at the Phish concert with three pounds of pot and two pounds of mushrooms. The bailiff, the one from Die Hard, was telling the hippie all about the last episode of Chappelle and how much he liked it when Chappelle made fun of white people. Then the judge returned and we all stood up. In the end, everyone was pleased. The hippie got eleven years suspended sentence with six weeks time served and was escorted out of the courtroom to be discharged and released. Now hearing the case of Mark Simmons, the prosecutor announced. My turn would come soon. And I was ready. I didnt spend $300 on airfare and a hotel room to be found guilty. I could have easily been tried



in my absence and simply paid the fine like most friends who faced the same charge. No, I wanted them to see my face and my long beard and my dreadlocks and realize I had done nothing wrong and ask me to have mercy on the court and forgive the officers present. I was prepared to go against the state of Virginia and lose, but at least I would lose honorably. Although, the whole trip had been filled with fortunate outcomes. I had planned to stay up all night to make my 6:35 am flight but passed out on cheap wine just before sunup and jolted awake at 6:05. I called a cab, grabbed my phone, and headed outside where the cab was already waiting for me. Hi, how are you Im very late please go as fast as you can to JFK, I told the driver. Fine, thank you, he replied, and the cab lurched forward continuing to gain speed. I made my flight. Ive never missed a flight. But when I deplaned in Norfolk I realized that I had neither my court summons, still tacked to my bulletin board in Brooklyn, nor any money to my name. I was broke and my most recent check had yet to clear. Fortunately, a kind sailor knew exactly what court house I needed to go to, and a generous Baptist woman in a bright red business suit and hat offered to share her cab because she was going that way anyway. So the fact that I made it to the courthouse at all demonstrated that the Gods were looking favorable upon me. I had talked to Brian earlier in the week and he said he had asked for a continuance and his date was rescheduled. I figured that would work in my favor. Waiting in the hallway outside the courtroom a few of us Phish fans killed time talking about the band while all the arresting officers sat quietly and patiently. When a flat-faced man in a suit approached me and asked me what my name was I asked him what his name was. Turns out, he was a police officer and after looking at my file he said my specific arresting officer, Officer Bowers, was on leave due to a death in the family and my court date would need to be rescheduled. No, Im here, I said. Im here, lets take care of it. You can talk to the prosecutor, but Im sure hell tell you the same thing, he said. Hes that man over there. Well, remind me of your case again, the prosecutor said. He was a thin man with no sign of malice or self-righteousness. His brow was smooth and unblemished. I was arrested because a friend of mine sold my beer to an undercover


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cop, I told him. I didnt sell the beer, but got in trouble when I admitted the beer was mine. I live in New York and I flew down here to take care of this today. Okay, he said, switching his briefcase from hand to hand. Ill just throw the case out. So I was feeling good in the courtroom watching the state of Virginia crucify the ill-fated Mark Simmons. PROSECUTOR: Officer Jackson were you working on the afternoon of August ninth? OFFICER: Yes, I was. PROSECUTOR: And were you indeed working Coliseum Boulevard during the Phish concert that afternoon? OFFICER: Yes, I was. PROSECUTOR: And did you observe the individual present sell liquor without a liquor license? OFFICER: Yes, I did. PROSECUTOR: What did you observe? OFFICER: Well, at 3:57 pm I observed the subject, later revealed to be Marc Simmons, drinking a twelve ounce bottle of Budweiser beer near the main walkway to the coliseum and because of his youthfulness I remained in a position where I could observe his actions. After observing him sell two twelve ounce bottles of Budweiser to another subject, I approached Mr. Simmons and requested to purchase a beer. He then sold me two twelve ounce bottles of Budweiser beer for five dollars at which time I revealed myself, confiscated the beer, and issued the summons. JUDGE: How do you plead? SIMMONS: Guilty. JUDGE: And what do you recommend, sir? PROSECUTOR: Five hundred. JUDGE: Guilty as charged. Five hundred dollar fine. Mark Simmons left the courtroom and the prosecutor called my name. I walked to the judge and stood next to the prosecutor. The judges hair glistened in the light and her glasses cast a glare over her eyes. I see here that Officer Bowers is on leave, the judge said, reading my file. This hearing is rescheduled for October twenty-seventh. Your honor, may I say something? I asked. She looked at me. I live in New York, I just graduated from college, Im taking time off my new job to spend the money to fly down here and stay in a hotel for



the night. I was not notified that my court date was to be rescheduled and Id like to settle this now, while Im here. Youll have to come back on October twenty-seventh, the judge said. I wont be able to, I said. My conviction rattled her. And why is that? she asked. Because Ive spent all the money I have to be here today. And how do you plan on pleading? Not guilty, your honor. The beer was mine, yes, but I was not selling it. Son, she leaned in and pushed her glasses up to the bridge of her nose. Youre going to have to come back. Perhaps it was a mild acid flashback or some cathode ray tube branding but suddenly I felt like Princess Leia at Jabbas palace demanding the bounty for the great wookie, Chewbacca. I looked at the prosecutor for help, some sort of guidance. He evaded my glare but finally spoke up: Your honor may I have a minute with Mr. Smith? The judge sighed. Well take a short recess. I followed the prosecutor into the hallway where he let his posture weaken and unbuttoned his blazer. Whats your problem? he asked. Whats my problem? Whats your problem with my case? My problem is that Im not guilty and Im not coming back so lets deal with this now. My problem is that it isnt my fault the cop didnt show up. My problem is that Ive already spent three hundred dollars. I guess you could say I have a few problems. The prosecutor stared me down and I stared right back. For a moment I thought he was going to hit me. How do you feel about plea bargaining? he asked. Im listening. What if I amended the docket to read that you werent selling the beer but did have an open container in your possession? Whats the fine on that? Twenty-five dollars. Alright, lets do it, I said, leading us back into the courtroom.

That night I drank a twelve-pack in the hot tub at the Hampton Radisson,


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passed out early, woke up late, and had the cabbie stop at a gas station for a carton of smokes on our way to the airport. About two months later I heard from Brian. He had appeared for his court date in October. And so did all four arresting officers. They butchered him on the spot.



PART TWO Entry Wounds, Exit Wounds: Beautiful Landscapes Can Be Dangerous

here are only three bands I would drive hundreds of miles to see: (1) Phish, (2) Soul Coughing, (3) Morphine. Soul Coughing broke up, Phish is now broken up, and the lead singer of Morphine is dead, fucking died on stage. I feel old. But I guess growing old is just a soft, peaceful synonym for survival. I was sixteen years old when my mother took me to my first Phish concert. We had just moved from Fayetteville, North Carolina to Seattle, Washington and that summer I listened to live Phish bootlegs and watched almost every game of The World Cup. Then summer yielded to Autumn, I started my junior year of high school, and Phish scheduled a stop of their Autumn tour at The Gorge at George, Washington. The geography of Washington is such that clouds come in from the coast so heavy with rain that they hang lower than the peaks of the


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Cascades and, crashing against the side of the mountains, the clouds drop their rain upon Seattle and the surrounding regions. The mountain range acts as such a powerful divide that Eastern Washington receives almost no rainfall and feels like another state entirely. The drive east on I-90 is beautiful: long, straight airport runways of freeway through occasional farming towns. Reaching closer to the Columbia River the terrain changes again, this time from desert to rock and canyons. The highway clings tightly to the edge of a chasm as you make your way further east, past the Wild Horse Monument, which, at the top of a steep hill, can be seen from a distance. A herd of rusty iron horses, each about ten feet high, maybe ten or twenty horses in all, are frozen mid-gallop following their leader to certain death off the edge of the cliff.

You enter the gates, they tear your ticket, give your pockets a pat, and send you on your way down an asphalt roadway alongside a man-made pond reflecting the last of the afternoon light, that thirty minutes between day and dusk. All the concertgoers who enter with you look radiant and peacefully anxious, some walking briskly with teethy grins, others hand in hand one step at a time up this road that steeply inclines and inclines and inclines and when you reach the summit all that is real or true or beautiful in this world is presented to you like an oil painting, so detailed and full of life that it seems almost more accurate than the landscape it depicts. Below the ever reaching bright blue sky is a rolling thickly grassed hill that tiers into stone steps towards the bottom before the floor facing the stage that stands on the edge of a massive chasm, a canyon, a gorge at the bottom of which is a shimmering cool blue ribbon that is the Columbia River. And that, dear reader, is a shameful illustration, albeit the best I can do. Describing The Gorge is like describing heaven. Everyones heaven looks just a little different. And my heaven isnt your heaven. But I do know this: The Gorge, hidden among the vineyards and canyons of Eastern Washington, is undoubtedly the best music venue in this country. And yes, Ive been to The Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. Thats a nice venue too. Perhaps if I first saw Phish at Red Rocks, I would not have the love and loyalty that I do for The Gorge. That first concert,



September 16th, 1998, was wonderful. And Ive never listened to that show since then. Ive had opportunities, many heads on tour have tried to give me the bootleg recording, but I would rather remember the show as I do now then attempt to revisit it. I remember that autumn sunset and how Phish stopped mid-song so the drummer, Jon Fishman, could play a drumroll as the planet rotated and the sun fell down behind the chasm walls of The Gorge.

Each summer some of my friends from high school organize a camping trip and for 2003 we arranged to stay on the Columbia River not far from The Gorge. The plan was to camp for eleven nights, the last two being the Phish concerts. Only five of us, myself included, made the initial drive to the campsite in Robs truck, towing his fathers boat, an ample sea vessel for fishing and inner-tubing. We left Seattle at dusk and after a few hours, just over the pass, we arrived in Ellensburg, Washington, home to Central Washington University, where we met up with some girls, girls Rob knew from Central, who had an apartment where we could crash before driving the rest of the way to camp in the morning. They seemed like nice girls, the frumpy, uptight type, but nice nonetheless. Its interesting how the word nice, in certain context, has come to mean mediocre. But they did make us drinks and entertain us briefly before we hit the bars. We were drinking at some pool hall with fluorescent lightening and I found some cute tattooed girl who was curious about the big city and general Brooklyn life. I was enjoying myself and the drinks were cheap. The bar was full of muscular men with pooka shell necklaces and gelled hair and my boys were playing pool against a pair of them. I stuck out like I usually do in such places. Central and eastern Washington rarely see a dreadlocked, bearded boy with seemingly no concern for his appearance. And this tattooed girl was happy to be seen talking with him. I dont mind being that novelty. Occasionally, it gets me laid. One of these local boys approached me and the girl stopped talking. I looked at him and he just continued to look at me. His eyes were glazed over and he held his arms crossed against his chest. Can I help you? I asked. Whats up with all this? He asked, motioning with his hand around my head, my dreadlocks, my beard. Whats up with all that? I asked, motioning around his head, his


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short, spiked hair, his clean-shaven face. He laughed and then seemed to be angry with me. He started yelling drunkenly and his friends, apologizing for him, pulled him out of the bar. Does that happen a lot? the girl asked me.

One hot summer night in 2000 I was drinking at a bar in Boulder, Colorado and I started talking to this man with a ragged facial scar wearing a Members Only jacket and I upset him when I told him I wasnt Rastafarian. The man was completely crazy, which is so obvious to me in hindsight, but that night I didnt realize the level of his dementia until he pulled out a knife. So if I attack you, are you going to fight back? he asked. If I stab you right now youre gonna bleed, and youre gonna die, dont you pacifists get that! He waved the blade around in the air and made a short jab at me. Whats wrong with you fucks? Im stronger than all of you! I slowly, calmly stepped backwards, moving away from the man, never turning my back on him. I think I told him I needed another beer, that Id be right back.

In Ellensburg that night, the tattooed girl made off with some farm boy and my friends and I went back to the girls apartment. My friend Steve and I hung around outside smoking a joint and talking about his exgirlfriend, this beautiful redhead who said she may or may not show up during the campout. Yeah, fuck her, Steve said, taking a drag off the joint, the last drag. He stomped it out with his Etnies. I dont really see Steve any more. Occasionally when Im in Seattle I run into him on the street or at a party, but we rarely talk. For years Steve and I were close friends. We used to drive his Bronco to various parking spots, make-out points, in west Seattle overlooking Puget Sound and smoke pot watching the ferries slug from one end to the other. Steve lived on Charleston just off California and on the way to his house the road went practically vertical and then peaked and declined. If you ignore the warning signs and run that hill at fifty or sixty the car actually goes airborne and lands hard, still rolling down the hill at the bottom of which is a four-way stop. But at that speed, upon landing, you barrel right through the intersection.



During the summer between junior and senior years of high school Steve and I would swim in his pool almost daily. Steve was a phenomenal swimmer but rarely swam with others because he was self-conscious of the birthmark on his chest. It was huge, a dark discoloration that covered his pec and stretched into his stomach. It looked like a continent. Some days after swimming wed retire to his bedroom and take turns playing the guitar for each other. Steve sang too. And he always wore a cap, usually turned backwards. The same year I first saw Phish, Steve and I saw James Brown at The Paramount Theater. And it was amazing.

My Five Favorite Concerts: 5. The Trey Anastasio Band, Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY (2002) 4. Beck, The Keyspan Arena, Seattle, WA (2000) 3. Modest Mouse, The Showbox, Seattle, WA (2000) 2. Phish, The Star Lake Amphitheatre, Burgettstown, PA (2003) 1. James Brown, The Paramount Theater, Seattle, WA (1998)

At that concert Steve and I stood front and center at the foot of the stage not four feet from the Godfather himself. The man moved like a creature that had been to hell and back. He sang with spirit and lust, commanding the twelve-member band with a series of simple gestures. His presence commanded your full attention. He had a guitarist, bassist, full horn section, two drummers, three backup singers, five dancers, a magician for intermission, and of course, a man to bring out the cape. We were the only white people in the Theater and certainly the youngest but that didnt matter. James Brown screamed, sweat, shrieked, and stomped in front of me, so close that when he pushed his microphone out into the audience I thought it was falling on me until he tugged the cord sending it back to him, past him, when he dropped to his knees and caught it just before it hit the floor. It was spectacular And at the end of the concert, James Brown leaned over and shook my hand.


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It was the best concert I have ever seen. The best concert I will ever see. The best concert any of you will ever fucking see. Steve and I talked about that concert almost every time we saw each other, but its just one of those experiences beyond description. Like love or a broken bone or your first blowjob. Thats James Brown. And if this book were a 1980s horror film it would now segue to a campfire circle in which my friends and I are roasting marshmallows or hot dogs and someone says, Okay, cool. Now, Rob, whats the best concert youve ever gone to? And Rob takes his turn but before he finishes we all hear a woman scream in the distance and leave to investigate, splitting up on the way, getting murdered one by one in unique and ghastly and horrific ways. Camping is always a long party during which you never stop drinking, eat when you want, sleep when you want, and we brought drugs too. Someone was always coming or going and there was anywhere from five to twenty of us camping there throughout the week. We cooked BBQ ribs and fish from the river. One night the girls made a pasta dinner with salad and cake for dessert. A couple of days we went out boating and jet skiing in the Columbia River. I could get those jet skis going eighty between pillars of the I-90 bridge. When a ski bucks you at that speed you skid across the water and by the time you realize whats happened youre underwater and your life-vest is pulling you to the surface. Damn we had fun with those machines. We raced across the river, probably two miles wide, and once or twice Mike and I played chicken. He always flinched first. They were his fathers jet skis. At the end of the day two lucky individuals rode the skis back to the pier while the rest rode on the boat and one day Steve and I decided to go tandum on a ski to shore. The two girls riding the other ski took off and the boat followed before we even had our ski started. And it didnt take long to realize it wasnt going to start. But by that time both the girls and the boat were out of sight. Just give it a minute, I said. We needed to remain hopeful. Steve and I laughed and joked. Were gonna die here, you know? I said. Im prepared to die, Steve said. We occasionally tried and failed to start the jet ski.



Next time, I promise, Steve said. It better, I said. Then the joking stopped. Are we getting lower? Steve asked. The water, which was once at our ankles, had reached our calves. We were sinking. To buy some time we jumped in the water and floated hopelessly. The jet ski continued to sink. An hour passed. Im really cold, Steve said. I was shivering. We were directly in the middle of the river with a mile swim to shore on either side of us. And the jet ski was half submerged. Why hadnt someone come back to look for us? How long would I wait on shore before sending out a rescue party? Eventually, the jet ski went under and Steve and I laughed either because we had gone half-mad or because we had survived the jet ski. Steve and I floated, waiting in silence. It had been hours. I was beginning to think awful, paranoid thoughts. Who knows what creatures live in this massive, incredibly deep river? Wed have to swim for it. And I wouldnt make it. Steve blew the whistle attached to his life vest. He saw them first: a pair of jet skiers in the distance. Steve blew that whistle; he blew until his cold, gray face turned purple and red. Only just before he gave up, only as the skiers turned to go back the way they came, did they see us. During that moment, bobbing in the water watching them speed towards us, I felt like I was worth something. All the insignificance that saturates you hour after hour abandoned in a such a river, the almighty power of nature over humans, all that sank to the bottom. They were both girls, our rescuers, one on a single-person jet ski, the other on a two-seater. What are you guys doing? the blonde asked. Waiting for you, Steve said. They laughed and the brunette agreed to take one of us on her ski and the other one could hang on the back and get towed to shore. I climbed on that jet ski before Steve could even make a move. The girls hair smelled like shampoo and I hugged tightly to her life vest as Steve clung to the rear of the ski. As she drove us towards shore the river didnt seem like the death


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trap it once was. Suddenly, Steve howled and looking over my shoulder I saw that he had let go. We had driven over a shallow, rocky sandbar, dragging Steves chest and stomach across the rocks. He stood kneedeep on the sandbar with a bloody chest, wincing but laughing too. I volunteered to stay behind, and she took Steve to the pier planning to come back for me. I stood on the shallow sandbar in the middle of the river and watched them ride away and eventually out of sight. Standing by yourself in the middle of a river is humbling. No noise. No wind. No plants or animals. Just the river. And the sky. And all other forms of nature more powerful and vast than yourself. But I didnt feel insignificant or irrelevant. I felt like a small piece of an unimaginably large structure that is planet earth or at least America.



Meriwether Lewis and William Clark followed this river to the Pacific Ocean on the last leg of their voyage. And now, some hundred years later, I stood the middle of it. And the sun warmed my skin.

Tim arrived the next day, just in time for the show. We were camped at the base of this gravel mountain and Sparky and I climbed to the top with the intention of sliding down on a piece of cardboard or a shovel, both of which we carried to the peak with us. This was right around the time when I was making videos of myself in my dads old army uniform, boots, Kevlar helmet, the works. And I wore the uniform for our climb. A small crowd gathered at the base of the mountain to see how this bearded soldier would descend and thats about the time when Tim arrived. I showed up and all these people were sitting drinking facing this mountain, Tim later said. And then I heard someone say, Andys gonna break his fucking neck, so I knew I was in the right place. The cardboard didnt really work as a sled and the shovel was no better. I heard someone below yell, Cartwheel! Cartwheel! Dont disappoint your audience, Sparky said. Youre right, I said and took a few steps back. With a running start I threw myself into a cartwheel and soared. I rolled and bounded down the mountain. Gravel and sky, gravel sky, gravel and sky, all the way, end over end I lost all sense of self and placement. The momentum consumed me and in the middle of it there was a moment when I knew nothing before falling and nothing after falling. The fall was my existence. Then I came to rest. And Phish tour is a lot like that. You gain a momentum going from show to show every day for weeks. You drink and party from morning into night and wake up the next day to do it all over again in a different town. In a sense the outside world disappears and when the tour is over and you return home the feeling is like coming out of a good film: the world is new and different because you had forgotten it for a moment. I dont read newspapers on Phish tour. I dont watch television. I dont ride the subway. I dont cook dinner. I dont think about bills. I dont go to work. I dont wake up in my apartment with my alarm clock buzzing and my neighbors talking loudly. I dont use my keys to lock up before I leave.


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When I returned from my travels this summer, basically ten weeks on the road, I came home and couldnt remember what key opened the front door to my building. It doesnt take long to remove yourself from the every day grind and now, sitting in my bedroom writing about my time on Phish tour, I cant help but miss that escape, that alternative to all this real life. Phish is no more, they broke up, and I have no problem with that. Its their decision. But thats not to say I dont miss it.

Last summer, after those two Gorge shows with Tim and my Seattle friends, I returned to Seattle and Tim drove to the next show in Salt Lake City. The next night I flew out of Seattle to Kansas City for a lay over on my way home to New York. Phish was scheduled to play The Verizon Amphitheatre in Boner Springs, Kansas after Salt Lake. Initially, I had planned to stay with Kai, but after the awkward, obligated hospitality with which she received me on my way out to Seattle, I checked-in to a hotel in Wyandotte county. I didnt even call her. Kai lived in an old post office in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Missouri that she and her friends had converted into a living space as well as an art gallery. The few days I stayed there on my way from New York to Seattle, she took me out to dinner and lunch and we visited a couple of art galleries but she often left me at the post office while she went out with her boyfriend who lived next door. I spent most of my time writing or lounging on the couch outside on the loading dock. I napped a lot too. And watched the trains come and go. The post office was next to a train yard and almost every hour a train horn sounded loudly, eliminating all other sounds and thoughts in that hot, humid summer stagnation between what Kai and I had in New York and what we had then, which was much less. I made good friends with her roommate Adam. Adam was a nice tall, slender guy from South Carolina. He talked with that luke-warm Southern drawl and enjoyed beer as much as I do. One night while Kai was out with her boyfriend, Adam and I went gambling at the dog track. We didnt win a single race and drank until we were drunk, left, bought more beer, drove home, and drank warm Milwaukees Best out on the loading dock with the nearby trains. We should just hop on one of those trains and ride it wherever it



goes, I said. And then what? Then we call Kai and have her come pick us up, I said, laughing. I cant do that, I have to work tomorrow, Adam said, laughing too. I got to go feed spicy chicken wings to fat bitches all day tomorrow. Trust me, I said, talking louder and louder as a pair of trains crossed paths in the yard. No ones gonna go hungry if you skip work tomorrow. What? Adam asked, as the trains blew their horns and whistles and gained speed. We waited for the trains to pass. Then it was quiet again. Are we gonna do it or what? I asked. No way, Adam said. Fine, I said, drunk and aggravated. We continued to drink and the trains continued to roll through on their way to places like Chicago and St. Louis and points west.

So on my return layover in Kansas City, staying at a hotel, I had a day to kill before the concert and decided to spend it at the dog track. I took a cab from the hotel. My cab driver, Kamil, a well-mannered, warm-hearted Kurd from Iran argued with me about the price. We settled on a roundtrip fare and continued to chat during the drive. As he turned the car into the parking lot of The Woodlands racetrack he asked how long I planned on staying. Just a couple of hours, I said. Before ten? He asked, eyes framed in the rearview mirror. Probably. Then maybe I join you? Yeah, sure. Lets do it, I said, smiling. Walking through the parking lot Kamil smoked an entire cigarette in two breaths. I quit gambling, I quit, I say no more, he stammered nervously. I even filled out the paper, it say I not allowed to bet anymore. Maybe I just watch you bet. When did you quit? I asked. Four months ago. I dont think theyre gonna recognize you. Kamil laughed and wrinkles spider-webbed from the corners of his eyes. Probably not, he said. Inside, I bought a soda and topped it off with the rum from my flask.


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Kamil bought a beer. You got ice in your beer, I told him. I like it cold, Kamil replied with a mustache of foam. But you got ice in your fuckin beer, man. Kamil laughed and rubbed his bald spot. We played the dogs all night long. We played the live races, the Jacksonville track, the buggies in Delaware, and every other simulcast racetrack. Kamil kept drinking beers with ice and I kept tipping the contents of my flask into my soda and when my flask was empty he bought me a beer with ice. Just try, he said. Neither of us had won a race by eleven oclock so we decided to bet on one more before leaving.


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Kamil dropped me off at a bar called Above The Hoop, a sports bar. I quickly made friends with the bartender and some locals and soon I was drinking for free. The bartender, some ugly, bitter woman, told me some dirty jokes and I told her some too, like the one about tampons. What did one tampon say to the other tampon? I asked. Nothing, she said, knowing the joke. They were both stuck up bitches. The locals laughed and she poured everyone another round of some green concoction. At the bar I made friends with some kids my age and they invited me to join them at their table near the PGA World Tour arcade game. In no time at all I was in the bathroom with my new friend Chico doing coke off the top of the urinal. He knew I was in town for Phish and wanted to talk about it. Hed seen Phish once. You should come to the show tomorrow, I said. I dont have a ticket, he said. I shrugged my shoulders. After Chico and his friends went home I found myself drinking with the bartender and two older gentlemen, the towns exterminator and the towns liquor store owner. We closed the bar and hours later, when we finally left, they took me to breakfast. Eating pancakes and eggs, two other men joined us and we talked politics as the sun came up over the flatlands. They certainly had different opinions than I did but enjoyed listening to me and genuinely took in what I was saying. And I listened openly to them, which was a feat as drunk as I was. When the bill came I opened my wallet and remembered I had spent every last dollar at the dog track and when I explained that to the waitress she cut me short and told me to shut up before she made me wash dishes. Breakfast was on her. Youre one lucky sonofabitch, the liquor store owner informed me. Thanks, I said. You need a ride to your hotel? he asked. Thatd be great, I slurred.

In the morning I woke up and stumbled in my boxers through the hotel to


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the hot tub. I soaked away my hangover, dressed, and wandered outside to see if I could find anyone on their way to the show. The parking lot was empty. I walked across the street to the other hotel and found a similar scene so I decided to hitch and walked a mile up the road to the freeway, made a sign that read PHISH, and stood near the entrance ramp. It was damn hot that day. The sun was high in the sky and the air warmed your lungs with every breath. Cars and trucks drove past me and their drivers hardly glanced in my direction. None of them looked like they were going to the show. Its easy to spot a Phish fan on tour, at gas stations and diners and rest areas. We all have a similar color scheme and posture: earthy, nomadic, relaxed, carefree. That day on the side of the freeway I saw only a few hippies drive past me. They avoided eye contact. Even on Phish tour, people are apprehensive about giving a stranger a ride. I was once hitching a ride from Red Rocks back to where I was staying in Boulder after a Trey Anastasio show and this girl offered me a ride to the surprise of her boyfriend who didnt want to voice his opinion against her generosity. Waiting outside her car for traffic to die down I happily made small talk with the girl who shared her peanut butter and jelly, post-show sandwich while her boyfriend eyed me suspiciously from his seat on the trunk of the car. Then, after he insisted upon taking my backpack and putting it in the car, he pulled out an apple and said, I hate to eat it without cutting it, pocket knife you dont have a KNIFE do you? No, I dont have a knife, I said. Really? Not even a pocket KNIFE? No, I said. But after the ride back to Boulder he gave me a hug and I felt like I may have influenced his view of strangers or hitchhikers or perhaps people in general. I know its not the sixties but I dont think theres any more risk in giving a stranger a ride these days than there was in that decade. Especially to and from a Phish concert. And in my experience, Colorado is the easiest place to hitch. Much easier than Kansas.

I waited sweating next to that freeway in Bonner Springs for close to forty minutes before a gray Acura Integra with three riders pulled over.



Hop in, the passenger said. The three of them, all in their late twenties, seemed like gentle people and I felt no bad vibes, that is to say I sensed that they only wanted to help me out. Its important when hitchhiking, to a Phish concert or otherwise, to be prepared to make split second first impression judgment calls. I refuse to carry a weapon so I rely solely on my instinct. You making the whole run? the driver asked after we made our introductions. Not really, I said. I saw The Gorge, making it back to New York after this. Yeah, we saw The Gorge shows too, the shotgun rider said. They were a little mellow. Yeah, they could have been better. Could have been a better set list, said the guy next to me in the backseat. Definitely, I said. You guys making the whole run? We had planned to but something came up and were just doing Gorge through Alpine. Thats decent enough. Yeah, the driver said. Well, my backseat companion said, then paused. We were gonna do the whole run but my parents died in a plane crash in Alaska so I have to go to the funeral. The car seemed to slow. Jesus, man, Im sorry, I said. I felt like touching the kid. Thats terrible. Yeah, it was just a small four-passenger plane and they went through a cloud and flew straight into a mountain, he explained. The search party didnt find them for five days. We hit traffic almost immediately.

When we finally reached the lot and parked all of us stood around the car smoking a joint and I introduced them to the Orgasmatron, a head massager I bought on the Internet when I was sixteen years old. The Orgasmatron is made of six copper, soft-tipped prongs branching out from a handle. Using the appropriate amount of teasing twisting plunging on your head, it feels like a beautiful female Goddess is washing your hair with long, manicured fingernails. At Phish shows and gatherings where


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hippies commune, it is an instant friend-maker as well as an occasional source of income. Donations only, of course. Someone first introduced me to The Orgasmatron at The Gorge during set break at a Phil and Friends/Bob Dylan show I went to with Allison, my girlfriend at the time. We were lounging, stoned on the grassy hill in the sun when this man wearing a poncho and an African hat approached Allison and asked if shed like to try the Orgasmatron. She looked at me for approval or assurance and I said, Yeah, baby, give it a try. The man stepped behind her and told me to watch her face, as he plunged this device down on her head. She loved it, immediately closing her eyes, parting her lips. In the middle of the massage she let out an rapturous moan. It gave her goose bumps. My turn, I told the hippie. He did me and I was hooked, sold, completely enamored by the device, the Orgasmatron. I bought one as soon as I got home and it arrived in four weeks. All my friends loved it and I was reminded to bring it to every party, especially every rave. At music festivals and concerts people would give me money, drugs, booze, jewelry, hugs, and kisses for massaging them with the Orgasmatron. But that was seven years ago and things have changed since then. I dont bring the Orgasmatron with the orgasmatron me on tour anymore because without fail someones uncle, cousin, sister, or brother has one of those! And Arent those things amazing! These days at such festivals and concerts, vendors actually sell the apparatus under names like Brain Scrambler, Mind Tingler, and Spiritual Massager. You can buy an Orgasmatron through Sky Mall magazine on airplanes and I once heard that Katie Couric brought one out on The Today Show. But that day in Bonner Springs, the Orgasmatron came in real handy. Not only did it function as a thank you for the boys who drove me to the show, but I made a few bucks and got a few joints in the lot just walking around asking people if theyd like to try it. Usually, people at Phish concerts are more inclined to try something called the Orgasmatron than



people elsewhere. And Ive heard a million references to both the 1998 film Orgasmatron as well as Woody Allens Sleepers. That Kansas show was the last show to which I brought the Orgasmatron. Because of that Midwestern heat and the general exhaustion of those who drove from eastern Washington through Utah to be there, the Orgasmatron was a welcomed experience. I even traded a massage for a T-shirt this cute girl was pushing. Her shirts were canary yellow and in black text read, ITS DAMN HOT! I almost fell in love with her. Inside the venue, at set break, I caught up with Tim and some friends of ours who hailed from Rochester and we danced through the second set. At the end of the show Tim drove me back to my hotel room and in the parking lot I helped him plan his route for the overnight drive to Indiana. You sure you dont want to just come with? Tim asked, holding a map. I should get on that flight tomorrow. You sure?

The next day I flew home to New York. Sparky and Dylan had flown out to visit me and were waiting for me with Sam at my apartment by the time I arrived. They came mostly to see me and visit the city but planned their trip around The Siren Music Festival, the annual Coney Island festival thrown by The Village Voice. Modest Mouse was headlining that year. But The Siren Festival sucked: too many people, too many poseurs, too many stages. Modest Mouse played to an indifferent audience who applauded at inappropriate times. It was obvious that the band was dispirited by the crowd and didnt even play an encore. It made me miss Phish and somewhat regret not hopping in the car with Tim in Kansas. But Sparky and Dylan and I had fun throughout the week and when they left, in fact the very day they left, I met Eric and Adam at a bar for drinks and thoughtlessly asked Adam if he wanted to rent a car and drive down to North Carolina to catch the Phish shows there and meet up with some friends who would then drive us through the rest of the tour back to New York. Okay, he said. Really? Sure.


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So the next day we rented a car and drove to Greensboro, North Carolina where my friend Laura lived. I drove all thirteen hours and during the last leg, through thick pine-lined hills, the road moved like a treadmill. But we made it and drank until dawn with Laura on her back porch.

When Laura and I were fourteen we spent many Saturday nights by the side of her pool drinking her grandfathers booze and smoking his cigars. One moonless night I would have drowned had Laura not pulled my drunk-ass out of the deep end. Even then Laura was a good guitarist, and a great singer. Now she plays gigs at bars and coffee shops and is doing well as a folk rock singer in the South. The first show we hit on that run was in Charlotte. Decent enough show, of what I remember. Bezer was obsessed with finding mushrooms for the show so we split up in the lot and later found each other during set break. Actually, I think that was the Raleigh show. Or maybe it was Charlotte. Sometimes the shows blend together. Wait, I remember now. Laura and I lost Bezer during set break because he went looking for mushrooms and we never saw him again. After the show, back at the car Laura and I drank a beer waiting for Bezer. And then another beer. Slowly the lot cleared out and our car was one of only a few remaining. A cop rolled by in a golf cart and told us to get moving. Officer, I said. If my friend was sick or arrested where would I go to find out? Did he have any drugs on him? the cop asked. Probably, I said. Well, we arrested two hundred people tonight, the cop said. Better to go home and see if he calls in the morning. Then he sped off in his police golf cart. Laura was concerned but I had faith. A small amount of faith, but faith nonetheless. Bezer would find the car eventually. And he did. Wide-eyed and smiling. Hed finally found his mushrooms. But I dont think theyre working, he said. Well, how long ago did you eat them? Maybe twenty minutes? I also ate a tab of acid that I think I got ripped off for.



Let me see the mushrooms. He reached into his camouflage cargo shorts, his Phish tour uniform, and pulled out a handful of dried, blue-veined mushrooms. Those look real enough, I told him. Will you try some? Sure, I said eating a small handful as the three of us piled into the car. We drove mostly in silence through backwoods roads past signs warning of deer and sharp curves. At some point Bezer let out an unexpected giggle. Then he took a flash photo that temporarily blinded me at the wheel. Jesus, man! I said. Dont be taking pictures in the car! Laura glared at me suspiciously. He didnt take a picture, Laura said. I didnt take a picture, Bezer said. The three of us laughed. We laughed all the way back to Lauras house as I concentrated on avoiding the psychedelic deer I imagined leaping out in front of the car. Back at the house, I ate some more mushrooms, Bezer did too, and Laura went to bed, and Bezer and I watched back-to-back episodes of Cops on Court TV. Every single suspect in every single episode had either a gun, a crack rock, or both. Bezer ate another handful and put on the movie Spiderman. The sun was rising, and I fell asleep right around the time Willem DaFoe turned into the Green Goblin.

In the morning I stepped out onto Lauras back porch for a cigarette and to call my mom, let her know I was in North Carolina. On the phone, telling her about the brutal thirteen-hour drive, I looked down at my bare feet. In permanent marker on my left and right feet respectively, read the words: LEFT and RIGHT. Bezer slept in late that day, which was fine because we had planned to skip the show in Atlanta that night and instead drive out to the coast, out to Wilmington, where Bezers childhood friend David lived with his pregnant wife and a few Marine Corps buddies. We rolled into Wilmington around nine or ten and drank three beers instantly. David and his friends were thrilled to see Bezer and it was good to see Bezer happy among these life-long pals.


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Davids wife was pregnant as all hell, ready to pop at any minute. What do you guys want to do tonight? David asked us. He was shirtless and muscular, perfect smile, the kind of guy who got laid every weekend in high school. We were sitting on his front porch in a neighborhood, both residential and sprawling. Coming from New York, or even Greensboro, these houses were really, really far apart. Theres a party about three houses down, one of the Marines said. He was also shirtless. They all were. The party was in someones enormous backyard, hosted by a local but thrown by a crew of Jackass-types who drive an RV across the country stopping here and there, setting up, buying a few kegs, and once everyone gets drunk, they start paying people to do stupid things on camera. There must have been three hundred people there. Some cameraman offered me fifty dollars to let a girl punch me in the face. Only if shes wearing a cowboy hat, I told the cameraman. And she has to be shorter than me. Off he went to find someone who matched my description. Id lost Bezer at the party almost immediately and when he found me he slipped a gram of cocaine into my pocket. Were sharing that with David, he told me. In the bathroom I did almost the whole gram and later when Bezer requested it I told him it was gone and he didnt care, had already done a gram himself and went back for another three, one of which he gave me, before running off again. I poured myself a beer at one of the many kegs and flirted with some girls but everyone was way too drunk for conversation, including myself.



Wed only been in town for forty-five minutes and already I was flying high on a beer-soaked carpet ride. I poured myself another beer and noticed that a crowd had formed in the distance and I pushed my way to the front. In center of this crowd a girl sat in a chair holding a bottle of vodka and a man kneeled next to her with his head on her lap. The man started digging into his eye and then plucked out his eyeball, a glass eye. Then the girl poured some vodka into his open eye cavity, bent over, and sucked it out. The crowd roared and one of the cameramen gave both the drinker and the vessel a hundred dollar bill. I was impressed. Back to the keg. I found some of those shirtless Marine buddies and we chatted about Iraq. I stood there with four or five of these muscular soldiers, all of whom had USMC tattooed on their biceps. I had dreadlocks, a large beard, and a beer belly. We knew each others standpoints on the war, that was not up for discussion, and we made an unspoken agreement not to attempt any persuasion. We talked about the war like people talk about their hometowns. One soldier couldnt wait to go back. One soldier never got sent and felt left out. And the others were happy to be alive and excited to talk about their experiences. A Marine named Jack showed me his scars. Marines This is where the bullet entered, he said, pointing to his arm just above his elbow. This is where it exited, he said, showing me the other side. Then it entered here, pointing at his chest, and it exited again here, pointing to a round discoloration on his back. I dont know if were doing anything better for those people, one Marine said. But it sure is a rush out there. Oh, the biggest adrenaline rush you can imagine, another said. They shoot at you, you shoot right back.


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Isnt that scary? I asked. Well, one Marine said, looking at his buddies. You just never know if youre going to make it through the day, you know? The others nodded. Back to the keg. Im standing there, pouring beers for cute girls, pouring myself a few in the meantime, drinking, chatting it up, having a good time. Bezer walks up to me and says to get away from the keg because I think the cops are here. Dont worry, I said. Then this older guy wearing a visor walked past and casually pointed at me saying, him. Suddenly Im on the ground. My face is in the mud and Ive got a knee on my back, my hands pinned behind me then cuffed and Im standing again, handcuffed and being pushed through the crowd, some of whom were making a run for it. There were cops everywhere and I was freaking out. What the fuck! I screamed, as my arresting officer pushed me though the throng. Why the fuck am I being arrested! What the fuck is this! I screamed viciously all the way through the backyard to the front of the house where there were eight police cruisers, two ambulances, and one paddy wagon. It was quite a sight. Why the fuck am I being arrested! I screamed. The cop pulled down hard on my handcuffs and I fell back against his chest. Why the fuck am I being arrested! Because you got long hair, dirty hippie, the cop told me. Then he threw me into the paddy wagon. I stumbled to my knees, stood up, and sat on the cold bench across from the only other person in the wagon: an ugly, skinny bald kid wearing only a gold necklace and a red Speedo. Whatre you in for? he asked me. Having long hair, I said. You? Wearing a Speedo. We sat laughing quietly as the cops periodically opened the door to throw in someone else. Im sure had we not been handcuffed we would have helped up those poor sonsofbitches but no one made a move and most everyone was quiet except one who bitched and complained until someone wiser told him to shut the fuck up!



It was right about then, sitting with half a dozen drunkards in the paddy wagon, that I remembered the cocaine in my pocket. For a moment I thought Id just ride it out and see what happens. There was no way I could reach my front pocket. Maybe if I asked someone else to dig in my front pocket, they could pull it out and just toss it on the floor? That might work. The wagon door opened and two officers stood there pointing at me. You, one said. Get up. Everyone in the wagon looked at me with equal amounts envy and pity. Outside the wagon I stood handcuffed facing a trio of stocky law enforcement officers. These men, these Southerners, these men were men of the law. And the red and blue oscillating lights only magnified that atmosphere. Looking about, I saw there was no place to run. You got ID, son? Yes, I do. Lets see it. Can you un-cuff me? No, well just pull it out for you, the cop said. Its in your back pocket? I nodded, happy they were starting at the back. While he riffled through my wallet, I directed him to my military ID instead of my Washington state drivers license. Whatya think? one cop asked the other. Were you pouring beer for people? the cop asked me. I was pouring beer for myself, I lied. Its okay if you poured yourself a beer and then some for a few friends. He was trying to trick me. But I didnt, I said. You just poured beer for yourself? Yes. No one else? Yes. The three stared at me. I had a difficult time focusing and my throat was filling with cocaine phlegm. The drip. Well, whatya think? one cop asked the other. Whatayou think? I dont think hes a part of it, the other answered, eyeing me for some kind of sign, twitch or a movement that would say otherwise. I


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didnt even blink. Okay, were gonna let you go, the cop said. Turn around. They unlocked my handcuffs and I walked. I walked slowly, concentrating on each step. And I never looked back. Back at Davids house, Bezer, David, and all the Marines greeted me with warm smiles and high-fives and back slaps and bear hugs. They were thrilled to see me. For a moment I felt like I too was a Marine back from Iraq. We were talking to the cops for you the whole time! Jack told me. Each one of us went up one at a time and told them you had nothing to do with this and that you were a friend of ours who had only been in town for forty-five minutes. I was grateful beyond words so we shared a few more back slaps and high-fives before heading inside. We stayed inside for the rest of the evening finishing the cocaine and just after sunrise Adam and I passed out on the floor in the living room. That afternoon David, his wife, Adam and I ate breakfast at a diner called Whiteys where, history tells us, Michael Jordan worked as a cook before going to college at the University of North Carolina.

Then Bezer and I drove back west from the coast towards Greensboro to pick up Laura and her friend Kenny before heading back east to Raleigh for the show. The drive to Greensboro was long and tedious. My vision was lacking and my head throbbed and the traffic was miserable. At one point, Bezer became really annoyed with the woman in a white Lexus tailgating us at seventy miles an hour. I tapped the breaks a few times, but she never relented. Fuck this, Bezer said, rolling down the window. He opened his V8 juice, red and creamy, looked back at the Lexus, then out the window, then back at the Lexus, then suddenly he tossed the juice out the window. Red paste covered her windshield and the Lexus swerved, breaking, and then the windshield wipers cleaned the juice off. Bezer laughed loudly, proud of his success. I looked at him disapprovingly. Oh, fuck that bitch, he said. She shouldnt tailgate. But you blinded her, she could have crashed. Whatever. Fuck her. Just dont let her pass us. I didnt. I kept us speeding away from Wilmington, straight through



Raleigh, back to Greensboro where we picked up Kenny and Laura, returned our rental car, and then I drove Lauras jalopy back towards Raleigh. About thirty miles out, traffic stopped. No one was moving. We were behind schedule and Laura grew anxious because none of us had tickets. I rolled down my window and stuck my finger in the air. Two minutes later, a pair of guys in a corvette yelped at us. They had two extra tickets and we bought them for face, exchanging cash for tickets from car to car. Then Laura stuck her finger out her window and two minutes later a pair of girls in a pick-up yelped at us. They had two extra tickets and we bought them for face, exchanging cash for tickets from car to car. Almost immediately traffic subsided and we rolled gracefully towards the venue.

In the lot I ate some mushrooms and we walked around to try and buy some better pot than what we had already and found not a single dealer, vendor, no one was selling anything and the cops were everywhere. Cops on horseback, cops with nightsticks, Raleigh cops, state cops, typically obvious undercover cops. Everywhere. And the vibe in the lot was one of anger. People felt persecuted. And there were hundreds of fingers in the air. Near the gates to the venue I watched a man fall and puke all over himself. He thrashed about on the ground in his own puddle for a few minutes before the cops circled him and a medic golf cart rolled up. A crowd gathered to watch. He put up a decent fight, puked on one of the medics, took a swing at the air, but then they strapped him to the stretcher and he stopped struggling, probably passed out. Hey, give us his ticket! someone in the crowd screamed. Why cant you just leave him alone? someone else yelled. Give me his ticket! Give us his ticket! Give me his ticket! Yeah, give us his ticket!


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PART TH R E E The Purple Cape of a Man Named Juice & The Illegal Underbelly of Camp Close By

ear Saratoga Springs, New York, Lees Campground is something of a legend: a lakefront grassland that accommodated hundreds of thousands of hippies and vagabonds throughout the career and tours of The Grateful Dead and then Phish. The Grateful Dead was Vince Welnick, Mickey Hart, Bill Krutzman, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and Jerry Garcia. They met and first played together in San Francisco in the early 1960s. Phish was Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman, Page McConnell, and Trey Anastasio. They met and first played together in at The University of Vermont in the early 1980s. Twenty years apart, but certainly their tours overlapped in the years before 1995, when Jerry Garcia died on August ninth. On August 9th, 1995, I was living in North Carolina and my father and I spent that afternoon staining the back deck of the house. I spent a lot


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of time in that football field of a backyard we had in North Carolina. I picked up pinecones as a chore, then cut the grass, played soccer, read, wrote, and I did it all listening to tapes of The Grateful Dead on a tired, old boom box. And that afternoon staining the deck was no exception. But when the tape ended, instead of finding another, I tuned to the local classic rock station. We can take a break, my dad says. Im gonna go to the store. But I continued painting on that stain listening to CCR and The Doors and then I heard the DJ speak: I just received news that, early this morning, Jerry Garcia died of an apparent heart attack in his room at the Forest Knolls Drug Rehabilitation Center. Well miss you Jerry. Then the DJ played Playing With The Band, and the opening notes turned that hot, humid August air dry and chilly. When my father returned, beer in hand, he stopped short of the deck and stood for a moment in the doorway. He looked wounded. Were you listening to the radio? he asked. Yeah, I said, wiping the sweat from my forehead. I sighed. Come inside, he said. Were done for the day. We sat in the kitchen and he told me his story of when he went to the Watkins Glen concert as a teenager and saw The Band and The Dead. He told the story somberly, with imposed excitement. It sounded like a eulogy. I never saw The Grateful Dead play. And three years after Garcias death, September 98, I saw my first Phish concert at The Gorge. But that wasnt when I was introduced to the tour scene. Once, when I was in the sixth grade, my class took a field trip to the Seattle Center for some science fair. What the science fair organizers didnt consider was that The Grateful Dead was playing the Seattle Center that evening. So that afternoon my friends and I skipped out on the science fair and wandered amongst these long-haired, free-talking, drum-beating, all-smiles people. And even then, as a young teen, I appreciated their lifestyle, their community. The colored vans, the longhaired twirling women, the bearded drumming elderly, the variety of smells, the warmth of the crowd, the smiles everyone shined down upon me I knew one day I would ride with a tribe like this.



Ten years later, the night I stayed at Lees Campgrounds in Saratoga was the last night anyone would camp there during a weekend of Phish concerts. And everyone was up and howling. We had a blast. But like war, a long, drug-infested party harvests only bodies when the smoke clears, and just after sunrise, I stumbled around blessing the bodies of the dead like a priest on the battlefield. It seemed like there were hundreds of dead or sleeping boys and girls. Those nights, those parties, those shows, the beginning of the last, were all that they could have been. Looking back at it, most of those two weeks have melted together and all I remember is a few sets, a couple of excellent jams here and there, this town and that town, and the omnipresent hiss of thirty nitrous-oxide tanks throughout a dimly lit campground near dawn and then into morning. Sometimes you fail to notice the sunrise. Sometimes you sleep through it, and sometimes it sneaks right past you.

I remember one sunrise specifically, but it wasnt at Lees. The sunrise Im remembering was at Camp Close By in Indiana. Tim and I rolled into Indiana from Pennsylvania via Ohio late that night/early morning, took the exit we remembered and followed the homemade signs leading us into the campground. At the entrance, a speakfreak, wide-eyed thirtysomething with a flashlight searched our car, not for drugs or anything like that, he said. This is a hassle-free campground. Hassle-free, he repeated. I just wanna make sure you arent sneaking in your friends. Its thirty bucks each for the weekend. We paid, he gave us our campsite bracelets and a parking permit to keep on the dashboard, and we rolled into camp. We could hear the nitrous tanks hissing already and as soon as we set up our tent, we made ourselves a drink, I bought a balloon, and we introduced ourselves to the neighboring gypsy hippies. One of the unique and enjoyable aspects of Camp Close By is the fact that, unlike most campsites, parking and camping are in separate areas. This allows for a more natural camp setting and eliminates the blockades


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and obstructions that befall when a few hundred hippies camp amongst their cars, vans, caravans. Tim and I stayed up all night drinking with our new friends and after Tim went to sleep I befriended a man with a sixty-gallon nitrous tank and we huffed straight from the hose until dawn when the reverberating WAWAWAAWAWAWAAA of the nitrous eating my brain hushed and stopped and I passed out in a neighbors lawn chair. In my sleep I felt a gentle hand rubbing my thigh. I opened my eyes and saw the dark purple sky in its warming period just before baby blue, and looking down, I found a pretty, teenage face of a blonde girl smiling up at me from the ground and rubbing my leg. Good morning, she said. Morning, I replied. Then she handed me a balloon full almost to bursting with nitrous. I sucked it down and during the ensuing WAWA she stood up, leaned into me, and kissed me on the lips, a soft, sensual slow kiss. Then she trotted off and the WAWAWA abated and I closed my eyes again for sleep.

Wandering or roaming are words often used by gypsy-oppressors when describing the gypsy lifestyle. And its always in a negative tone. These words imply aimlessness, as if gypsy lives have no purpose or direction. But in reality, the lifestyle of the gypsies is quite purposeful, and at the very least a determined course built around community, travel, storytelling, and music if only because that lifestyle is rarely supported in the more traditional, contemporary societies. But what most of these gypsy-oppressors dont consider is the harsh reality of conditions of a life on the road, the day-to-day responsibilities of feeding a family, or feeding oneself, or just generally making money. On the June 04 Phish run I came across a few unexpected expenditures. I had not had the beer turn-over I had hoped for. What I mean to say is that I drank more beer than I sold and then bought enough nitrous balloons to run my wallet dry. I needed to make some quick cash. And at Camp Close By I came across an excellent opportunity. A friend named Jay, this Amish-looking red-head from Red Bank, New Jersey, some kid Id known only from tour, but known for over a year, well, Id heard at Lees in Saratoga that this guy had a lot of pot he wanted to sell. Apparently Jay had pounds and pounds of this shit, or so



claimed this burn-out in Saratoga. And at the rate he wanted to sell it, I could bag it up into eighths of an ounce and flip it in the campsite and make a few hundred bucks that would bring me well out of the hole. That afternoon at Camp Close By I went on a mission to find Jay and soon enough I ran into a friend of his who said he was staying at a different site but was coming by Camp Close By in a little bit and that he has a shit load of pot if youre looking to score. Yeah, maybe, I said. Ill come find you later on. In the meantime I walked around asking for pot just to kind of feel out the demand. Most people I passed at camp said, No, but if you find some let me know. I remembered where those people were camped and went back to my camp where I found Tim and Jay and a few others circled around a bong. Hey, dude, I said to Jay. Hey, man, he said. My buddy told me you were looking for work. Yeah, well, lets talk, I said. So Jay and I left and walked to the other side to camp where we climbed into his buddys tent. From a rolled up sleeping bag Jay procured a gallon size bag of pot, something like half a pound from the looks of it. Its not the best herb in the world, Jay said. In fact, its beasters, but you shouldnt have any trouble getting rid of it, no one around here is holding. Yeah, so how much are you looking for? Well, Jay started, and it was obvious he was trying to be bigger than he was. He wasnt used to selling this much pot at once, but, on the other hand, I wasnt used to buying this much. Slowly we worked out a deal and, if all went well, I stood to make a few hundred bucks. Okay, so how much money can you give me now? Jay asked. Nothing, I said. Thats why I need the work. Jay looked confused. Then angry. You mean you want me to give you a pound on the cuff? Yeah, I said. Its not like Im going anywhere. Ill be here all weekend, then Wisconsin after that. And you think you can push it all before then? No problem, I said. Okay, Jay said, skeptically. Whatever you say. But I dont have it all here, well have to go back to my site to get the rest. Well, Ill just take what you have here.


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I dont have my scale, Jay said. We need to go to my site to weigh it anyway. Now I was the skeptical one. Maybe Tim can drive us, I said. Sure. So we went back to my tent and I asked Tim to drive us and he was leery but agreed anyway. I said Id smoke him out when we got back. The plan was to drive up to the edge of Jays site where he would jump out, grab the gear, jump in, and we would drive back to Camp Close By where wed weigh it and Id bag it. And everything was working as planned, we already had the weight and were heading back to Close By when Tim missed the turn and made this quick, screeching U-turn in the middle of the road. My testicles shrunk into my stomach. What the fuck was that? Jay yelled from the backseat. Jesus, Tim, I said. Stop the car, Jay yelled. Stop the car, Im outta here! Dont stop the fucking car, Tim, I said. Just keep driving. Whats the big deal? Tim asked. Whats the big deal! Jay yelped. YOU DONT FLIP A BITCH WITH A POUND OF WEED IN THE CAR! Its fine, Jay, I said. Just be cool. Whatever, you guys are assholes, Jay said. We rode the rest of the way in fearful silence. But we made it back to the site, without further incident, and we parked in the lot and weighed and bagged the pound. So thats six grand you owe me, buddy, Jay said. What? I asked. Six. Six for the pound. Now, this isnt what we talked about, I said. Listen, Im no idiot, Jay said. Im helping you out, not the other way around. Its six, take it or leave it. Then Im leaving it, I said. Fuck you. If you dont want to push all this at once, and have me doing all the work for you then fuck off. Im sorry, dude, but I am helping you out. Tim stayed out of it and Jay was silent for a moment. Alright, Jay said. Lets say youre selling eighths for sixty. Thats 128 eighths, which is 6,100, I said.



Okay Jay said. No, Tim said. Thats 7,680. I glared at Tim. Exactly, Jay said. So Im cutting you a deal. Listen, you know as well as I that Im not gonna get sixty an eighth for this pot. Ill be lucky to get forty, more like thirty, so lets say an even thirty-five hundred. I stared at Tim so he kept his mouth shut. And lets not forget that you probably got this pound for twenty-eight hundred, I said. Judging by Jays blank-stare reaction, I was right. Fine, he said. You owe me thirty-five hundred. Deal, I said. So I stashed the pot in our tent and we drove Jay back to his site and on our way back to Camp Close By, Tim suddenly tensed and said a somber, fuck. What? I asked, but I already knew. We were getting pulled over. Not that we had anything in the car, maybe only whatever we each had in our pocketsand all I had were a few used balloonsbut the car reeked like pot. When you break up a pound into 128 little baggies, the smell tends to linger. Tim pulled over and the cop approached the car. What can I do for you, officer? Tim asked. Get out of the car please, sir, said the cop. Sure, Tim said. You too, said the cop. Alright, I said. Standing there on the side of the road, only yards from Camp Close By, the cop got straight to the point: I watched this car come by here just one too many times this afternoon, what are you boys selling? I laughed. You think this is funny, son? the cop said. I can smell the marijuana from here, you wouldnt object to us getting the dogs out here to go through your car, would you? Not at all, sir, Tim said. Excuse me? asked the cop. I said, not at all, sir, Tim said.



Okay, lets stop all this fooling round here, said the cop. May I search your vehicle? No, Tim said. Boys, Ive got you. Youre caught. And Im gonna find that marijuana whether I search the vehicle or the dogs search your vehicle. But we dont have any pot, Tim said. We just dropped off the last of it. I thought I misheard Tim. You did what? the cop asked. I said we just dropped it off. Thats why the car still smells, Tim said. Well, where did you drop it off? I dont know, one of those camps over there, maybe Bear Camp or Dancing Bear Camp? I think it was Big Bear Camp, I said. The cop was stunned. They didnt teach this in cop school. Are you lying to me? asked the cop. No, sir, we said in unison. The cop hesitated. He poked his head through the window into the car. Then pulled out and stared at us for a moment. If I see this car on the road again, he threatened. I will search it. Okay, Tim said. Now, get, said the cop.


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Back at Camp Close By I rolled a joint the length of my arm and the width of my waist and Tim and I smoked it from one end to the other. And we laughed at the police. Then I donned my uniform black cowboy hat and aviator sunglasses and got to work. I walked through the campsite, stopping at every pair, group, or family sitting outside their tents. You guys dont need any herb do you? I ask. Actually, says the leader of the pack, we were just looking for some. You guys need any pot? I ask. Yes, a woman replies, why yes we do. Lookin for weed? I ask. Lets see what you got, says a teenager pretending to know the difference between good pot and the garbage pot I was pushing. But the quality doesnt matter. People are happy to buy weed from a seasoned Phish-head with long dreads, a cowboy hat, and appropriately over-sized aviator sunglasses. I sold the eighths for forty, and fifty when I could, that is to say when the buyer was nave or desperate or wealthy. And in two hours I had over two thousand dollars in my back pocket. Back at the tent, Tim was still smoking. Howd you do? he asked. Pretty well, sold almost half of it, I said. Damn, said Tim. He was obviously intrigued. Did you hit the whole campsite? Pretty much, I said. But I dont think I went all the way to the entrance area. Well, maybe, if you want, Ill take some and go for a walk that way. Sure, I said, and dug out a few eighths for Tim and then he left. I was alone, sitting in the chair, contemplating where I should hide my two thousand. A pair of cute, dreadlocked girls came strutting towards me carrying four nitrous balloons each. Hey, sweetie, I called. Can I have one of those? Sure, baby, the uglier one said, and gave me a balloon without breaking her stride. I sat sipping on the balloon, just casually, nothing overboard. Hey, dude? I turned and answered in a low, nitrous-induced voice, Yeeaaaah? Were making some drinks over here, you want a whiskey and



coke? Surrre, I said, standing, walking over.

The very first time I smoked pot I didnt get high. I smoked only a handful of times in the coming years, and didnt get high those times either. The very first time I smoked pot and got high was May 16th, 1997. I was living in North Carolina, but moving to Seattle the next day. My father had been in Seattle for a few weeks and my mother and I hung around until I finished the school year. May 16th was the last day of school, my last day in North Carolina, and after school my friend Jenny, the very girl who introduced me to Phish, took me on a drive in her station wagon through the cotton fields and tobacco fields of North Carolina and smoked me out with a bamboo pipe. I remember going to a diner in Roland, some one street-light town, and I was so high I couldnt understand a word anyone was saying and Jenny translated for the waitress. Then we drove just a little farther to South Of The Border where we took the elevator to the top of the sombrero and while I urinated off the top, looking below at the matchstick cars of I-95, the wind changed direction and I watched my stream of piss curl out and sprinkle onto Jennys back as she stared into the distance of South Carolina. Another time, years later, maybe in 2001, I traveled to North Carolina to visit Laura and we drove to South Of The Border, smoking pot the whole way, and super stoned we ran around S.O.B. until dark. It was Thanksgiving. And, in our stoned daze, we played well past dinner and when we came to our senses and drove to her grandmothers house, we pulled out the leftovers from the refrigerator and ate our meal cold. For those of you who havent been to South Of The Border, or at least driven past it and the dozens of billboard advertisements along I-95 from Virginia to Georgia, well, then youre missing out. And I suggest you make a concerted effort to find out for yourself what exactly is South Of The Border. And then let me know. I still have no fuckin clue as to what that truck-stop, tourist-trap, pay-toilet, cheap fireworks, giant dinosaurs, bigger Mexicans, the biggest sombrero, ice cream parlor, wax museum, I dont know what all that shit is except to say that its the one, the only South Of The Border.


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Camp Close By ran a shuttle, what they called The Party Bus, to and from the venue both before and after the show. But they only ran it twice, which meant if you missed the first one, it didnt matter. That afternoon I missed the first bus and when I made it back to our tent the zipper was closed and the cooler was closed too. Tim had left without me. And that was fine. I stashed the wad of cash in my dirty socks at the foot of my sleeping bag, rolled a joint, grabbed a few eights to sell in the lot, and was off to wait for the second bus. At the bus stop a man sold veggie burritos and balloons full of nitrous. I bought the latter. When the bus made the bend everyone waiting roared with approval and last minute beer-runs happened. Almost as many hippies ran to the bus as ran away from the bus and then a second wave of smiling, beerholding hippies arrived. I hadnt been on a school bus since high school, since North Carolina, and that certainly wasnt The Party Bus. Our Party Bus driver got on the speaker and said, Listen up! She was a three-hundred pound black woman. My name is Monica. And today is my birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MONICA! sang the hippies. So yall be good and Ill be good. I dont care what you do or what you got but yall need to stay in your seats, alright? Happy birthday! Alright, Monica said. And if you got any of that weed, go on and pass some up here! Everyone howled and someone in the front lit a joint. The guy next to me was passed out holding three cans of Budweiser still attached in the six-pack plastic ringing. Careful to keep pinching the end of my half-full balloon with one hand, I fingered the plastic ring off a beer can with the other. POP! My balloon popped in my hand and someone behind me leaned forward and said, Oh, man, sorry, I think I popped your balloon with my cigarette. Dont worry, I said, opening my beer can. Hey, tell Monica to stop the bus! someone yelled. I couldnt see him, but apparently there was a man running alongside us waving, desperately trying to get someone to stop the bus. Monica, let him on!



Let him on! Alright, alright, said Monica, braking, stopping, opening the door. Juice stepped on board. Shirtless, and wearing a long purple cape, with long surfer hair, he thanked the bus driver and took a seat in the front while everyone applauded. Juice! I called out, but he didnt hear me. Juice! Then Monica blasted the radio and everyone cheered.

I first met Juice in Colorado, hitchhiking from Boulder to Red Rocks for a Trey Anastasio Band concert. At breakfast, I ran into a pair of hippies and asked them if they were heading to the concert at Red Rocks. No, says one. But he was wanting to go. Hes visiting from Maine. Well, Im going, but I dont have a ride and I think we should all go together. But I dont have a ticket. Youll be able to find one down there, I say. Ill help you. He thinks about it for a moment. Ill drive you if you want to go, his friend says. So the three of us pile in his car later that afternoon and the driver says, I just have to make a few stops first. We go to the bank, the post office, Burger King, his girlfriends office to deliver the Burger King, then we stop at the drug dealers house but he isnt home so we go to another drug dealers house. Then we go back to the bank. Dont worry, the driver says. Were on our way now. Suddenly the car fills with smoke. We stop and jump out. The driver opens the hood, sees the fire, runs to the trunk where he keeps a jug of water, runs back to the front and douses the fire. As the last of the smoke clears, the three of us stand dumbfounded. Sorry, boys, I say. Ill see you later. I walk two blocks to a main intersection, pull my notebook from my backpack, write RED ROCKS on a piece of paper, and hold it up for the passing traffic. Instantly, a topless Jeep Wrangler squeals to a stop. The passenger is a beautiful, hippie chick in a white dress wearing her long blonde hair in pigtails. The driver is a shirtless man with long blonde hair held down by a headband. Hop in, dude, says the driver.


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Thanks, I say, hopping in. Im Andy. You can call me Juice, little brother.

By the time Juice, his girlfriend, Rose, and I rolled into the lot we were friends. And the first thing Juice did when he stepped out of the Jeep was open his pack and remove a long, purple cape with silver glitter lettering across the shoulders that read *JUICE*. Im ready now, little brother, he said to me. Lets go for a walk. In the lot we met up with another carload of their friends and we all took shots and drank beer and smoked opium before I felt that it was time to part. Wandering around I employed myself with the Orgasmatron for a while but when I ran into some friends from an earlier Colorado concert I put it away and focused on drinking, needing to catch up to their level of intoxication. By the time they were ready to go in, I had only just started and thats where we split up. I wandered through the lot drinking and making friends and then stumbled upon a table of free Everclear jell-o shots. Have a free shot, before they melt, says the girl. Everclear? I ask, already drunk. It sure is! she says. Come get your free jell-o shots! Ill have one, I say and down it. Ya know, I havent done Everclear since junior year of high school when my friend Sparky and I would take pulls of his brothers bottle after school. Then you should really have another, someone whispers to me before taking his free shot. I should, I say, and take another. Sparky and I would be drunk through dinner off this shit. I take another. Thats all, I say, and move on. What could only have been an hour later I was beginning to have trouble walking and this guy catches me at some point, rights me up and asks if I want any acid. No, I say. I dont have the money for that today, thank you. No, for free, he says. I cock my head back and look at him down my nose. He nods. Well, sure then, I say. Why not?



He takes me to his car where he sits behind the wheel and I sit shotgun and he says, put your head back and stick out your tongue. I comply, feel the liquid land on my tongue, close my mouth, open my eyes, and look at him. Hes staring at me. And he looks horrified. What? I ask. Youve tripped before, right? he asks. Yeah Good, he says, laughing, patting me on the shoulder. Because I just gave you like twenty or thirty hits, I dont know, it just poured right out. Hes still laughing as he steps out of the car, leaving me inside to prepare for what would surely be the most intense drug experience of my life.

The very first time I did acid was in my bedroom by myself after buying some tabs at a Phish concert the night before. That was September 1999, I went to the show with my friend Laura and bought acid but she didnt want to trip at the concert so we saved them for the next night but she didnt want to trip then either so I ate them both. Wrapped in my comforter, squirming around on the floor, I talked with my Bob Dylan poster and at some point during the night I returned to the womb and not long after that I was reborn. Ive done acid a few times in my life, more than a handful, possibly more than two handfuls, but really not that much, relatively speaking. I have friends who have tripped hundreds of times. But acid can be tricky. I like to stay away from it. You just never really know what itll do or more importantly, whats in it. I prefer mushrooms. The trips are always cleaner, without the psychedelic hangover. Although there have been times when Ive tripped on mushrooms and just about lost my mind. One such time was at Mike Forces gallery show at Pratt where Mike and I bought enough mushrooms for not only ourselves but also all our friends. Throughout the opening, friends kept approaching me with leftover mushrooms saying they didnt need any more. And I ate the leftovers every time. Time was no longer linear in my mind. Time became a sphere, with the present moment at the center and a million possible courses of action shooting out from that center into every direction of an infinite sphere.


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And the present moment was constantly changing. Every second I was presented with an understanding of millions of simple actions, so many that at times I was paralyzed by the limitless options. At other times, other seconds, it was all I could do to randomly pick a course of action and follow it through. Some of these actions were simple and mundane like putting my hands in my pockets, pulling out my hands from my pockets, that sort, but at some point in the evening I chose the break a glass course of action. Then I chose the kick in the window course of action. And I began to fear I would harm myself. Another such intense trip, but still not The Most Intense Drug Experience Of My Life, occurred in Boulder, Colorado. Again, the night before I had bought mushrooms at a Phil and Friends show in Red Rocks, ate half at the show, had an amazing time, and then the next day, just bumming around Boulder, I ate the other half. That afternoon I went walking down Arapahoe to an aquarium that I had read about. I didnt have the brochure but I knew it was on Arapahoe maybe at the corner of 21st or 22nd Street. Well, the mushrooms grabbed hold of me around 16th or 17th Street. I was seeing characters from Planet of the Apes in the clouds. And they were talking to me. And I could hear them. At some point, maybe 25th Street, I popped in Futon World and asked the proprietor if there was an aquarium in the area. He politely said, no, so I left, but writing this now I can rightfully assume it went more like this: AP SMITH: Wheres the God-damn aquarium, I know its around here somewhere! FUTON WORLD PROPRIETOR: Son, you need to leave right now. I never found that aquarium and whether or not it ever really existed is up for discussion. Walking around in the heat that afternoon, after my attempt to ask for directions, I felt a little light-headed, tired, hot, so I did the only thing that made sense: I looked for shade. There, an oasis outside the Safeway grocery store. I reached the shade near the automatic door entrance and loitered between the newspaper bins and the public telephones. Everyone kept coming and going, mothers stared at me and they knew I was tripping, and Charlton Hesston was trying to get my attention.



I just need to talk to someone, I told myself. Thats all I need. I riffled through my address book, not thinking about the fact that Id been tromping around Boulder by myself for weeks now. Sam, I thought. Ill call Sam. Shell make it all better. I didnt even need her to talk me down. Just having a conversation with her was enough to calm me. But I wanted to sit down and the phone cord wouldnt reach my ear if I sat on the sidewalk but it seemed to be long enough if I sat on top of the phone stand. I put Sam on hold and climbed up top, dangling my feet over the front of the number touch pad. Whats the matter with you? Sam asked. Nothing, I said. I just want to rest my feet for a second. I watched the sidewalk turn into millions of tiny hexagonal puzzle pieces. The tiles started vibrating and bouncing, sometimes rhythmically. Now Im floating on my back in the ocean. The sky is fiery red. But the ocean its not water. Its turtles. I grab a turtle and hold it in front of my face and watch its little arms and legs punch and kick and then the turtle turns into a rock. Then I grab another turtle and watch him turn into a rock. Then slowly all the turtles Im floating on turn into rocks and the sky turns blue and I realize Im lying on my back on a pile of rocks on the ground behind the pubic telephone. I had fallen off backwards. How long was I out for? The phone cord was dead still, the phone hanging motionless. I grabbed it, Hello, I said. Yeah, Sam said. What happened? How long was I gone for? I asked. A minute or two. I have to go, Ill call you back, I said and hung up. My instinct told me to go into the grocery store and upon entry, when the air conditioning hit me, I realized I was soaking wet as if Id just jumped in a pool with all my clothes on. Still tripping in the grocery store I quickly bought a bag of chips and a bottle of water. Are you okay? asked the check out clerk. Im fine, I said, struggling to remember the process for buying an item at a grocery store. Price, money, change, item, thank you. Im back outside but still not well. I see a bagel shop across the street


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and I bound over there. Inside I toss some change on the counter and tell the boy I dont want anything, I just want to rest for a minute. Sure thing, dude, he says. Thanks, I say and turn to sit but he stops me. Just go like this, he says, touching the side of his head. I touch the side of my head and pull my hand away and see that my hand is now covered in blood. In the bathroom I discover that Im bleeding from my head, two spots on my back, both knees, and my left arm. Maybe I didnt pass out. Maybe I had a seizure. I was still tripping. And to be cleaning your own blood while tripping is quite a curious experience. But not the most intense.

I was tripping balls before I even got out of the dudes car. Or so I thought, I was wasted drunk too, but if the acid didnt kickn in there then it started on my walk into the venue because when I got to the gates a man handed me giant watermelon and said to share it with my friends. So me and this other dude cracked it open on a rock and then split it again and again until we had small enough pieces to distribute through the crowd of hippies entering the concert. We had our share too. Inside, I walked past the merchandise table and noticed a T-shirt for sale. And by this point I was definitely tripping. The T-shirt, bright lime green, had on its chest only a small, centered illustration of a wedge of watermelon. I bought that shirt that day. And I still wear it sometimes. I made my way through the crowd to a seat on the tiered stone surrounded by these massive walls of red rock and there were even a few people picnicking on top. I didnt really know what the hell was going on but when the music started, I began dancing and I didnt stop until the music stopped and then everything was quiet and dark and I was surrounded by people who I thought may or may not want to kill me. Then this pregnant woman walked by and she let me touch her belly and I could see the syrupy light of her unborn child stick to my hand when I pulled it back and forth from her stomach. Then the music started again and I danced some more and found myself talking with this girl who seemed to be rolling pretty hard. She keep clenching her jaw and grinding her teeth and when the music ended again she asked me if that was the end of the second set or the encore. I dont know, I said. I tuned to the guy next to me and asked him if that was the end of the



second set or the end of the encore. The second set, he said. The second set, I told the girl she was gone. I looked around and I didnt see her anywhere. To this day I dont know if she ever really existed. Then after the encore and the house lights came on I knew the concert was over so I followed the crowd out of the venue and up this hill overlooking the parking lot. I had hitched to the show and I still needed a ride back to Boulder so I pulled out my notebook and wrote BOULDER on a piece of paper. I had a lot of fun writing BOULDER, took my time, made the letters bubbly and beautiful and, finished, proud of my work, I looked up and saw that no one else was walking out of the venue. Looking down at the parking lot, I saw that most of the cars and vans were gone. I started to panic and ran around asking strangers for a ride to Boulder. But no one was heading that way, or so they said. Finally, a muscular man grabbed me and said, Were going to Boulder, come with me. I followed and he led me to a van around which stood a half-dozen CU fraternity brothers. And they were all severely drunk. And slightly mutated, three eyes or extended jaws, large foreheads, and one of them didnt have a nose. I climbed in the van with them and listened to the passenger argue with the driver as we pulled out of the lot. Youre way drunker than I am, slurred the passenger. No way, slurred the driver. The van rode the edge of the cliffs of Red Rocks as the brothers slurred and argued and completely ignored me. And the driver rarely looked at the road. I wondered if this serpent seatbelt would save me when we crashed. And if this is how it all ends, then so be it. I was prepared to die. I accepted death and waited for its arrival all the way back to Boulder where we suddenly stopped and I was once again alone in a strangers vehicle. I stepped out. The frat boys were nowhere in sight. I was in the parking lot of a strip club. I just started walking. Soon enough, I came across the bagel shop I sought refuge in the week earlier and it felt nice to see a familiar sight. I had only two more miles to walk to the hostel. It was well past midnight, maybe even two or later, and no one was


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on the road. I walked alone and after a mile I grew accustomed to the isolation and began to imagine what houses had unlocked front doors. Then I came across a fat man sitting at a bus stop but I knew better than to assume he was real. His fat was dripping off him through the cracks in the bench and collecting in a puddle underneath him. He wore a red baseball cap and held a cigar in his hand. The radio on the bench was silent. I walked past him without making eye contact. Be careful out there! he yelped after me. Thanks, I said, somewhat startled. No, I mean it, be careful out there! I will, thanks. Im telling you to be careful! he said. The aliens are stealing gallons of sperm nightly, I just heard the President say so. Here, listen. He turned on the radio: President Bush today announced that aliens are stealing gallons of I kept walking.

Want any acid? someone asked me on The Party Bus on our way to the venue. No, thanks, I said, as the bus pulled into the parking lot. We had arrived and I opened the back emergency door to the bus and all the hippies filed out of the bus from both ends. I assumed Juice took off running because I couldnt find him in the crowd. Indiana, I thought. Then I went through the lot, down parking aisles towards Shakedown. I didnt see Tim or anyone I knew for that matter so I started asking if anyone wanted some pot. Soon enough this little fourteen year old girl and her even younger boyfriend approached me and asked if she could buy some weed for forty dollars. Sure, I said, handing her a baggie. They scrutinized the bag for long enough and then I said, Okay, thats enough. Well buy it, the girl said, digging into her purse. Good, I said. Hey, buddy, someone passing said to me. Hey, I said.



He leaned in close and whispered, This is a warning, I dont want to see you doing this again. While he leaned back, he held his coat open to reveal not only a badge but also a gun. Then he stepped back into the crowd and was gone. We only have thirty dollars, the teenie-bopper said. Forget it, I said, walking away. Okay, forty, she called out.

It wasnt long until I saw Tim and Kevin but before that I ran into Brian and Bubba in passing. I was beginning to wonder if you dropped off, Brian said. I havent seen you since the Brooklyn shows. No, Ive been here, I said. Are you heading in? Yeah, I think so, I said, thinking of the cop. Where you sitting tonight? Where-ever, I said. Well, well be Page-side, come find us at set break, Brian said. I entered the gates. I meandered around the food tents and the beer garden looking for Tim but I didnt see him. So I hit the Porta-Potties. The line was ridiculous and I started chatting it up with my neighbors, in different lines for different Porta-Potties. Wanna bet my line moves quicker than your line? I asked one. Uh the guy said, craning his neck to count the number of women in his line versus the number of women in my line. My line had fewer women. No, I dont want to bet, he said. But in all my years of gambling on Porta-Potty lines, the women rarely make much of a difference. Looking at any drunk or drinking man, can you tell me if hes going to piss for thirty seconds or for three and a half minutes? You wanna bet? I asked another neighbor How much? he said. Five bucks? I said. Five bucks wont even buy me a beer, he said. How about ten? Yeah, okay, I said. You got ten bucks? Yeah, I got ten bucks, show me yours.


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So we each waited on line with ten-dollar bills in our hands and sure enough my turn came first and when the door opened and the girl stepped out and I stepped in I heard all our in-line neighbors roar. I pissed, stepped out, held the door for the next guy, collected my winnings, and was on my way down the line when I came across a girl heading the other direction carrying two beers. Can I have one of those? I asked. Uh, she said, stopping. I guess. She handed me a beer and kept walking. Is that your girlfriend? asked the next on line. No, I said, drinking. How do you know her? I dont, I said. Well, fuck he said. Then give me a sip! I handed him the beer and we laughed as he drank. Andy! someone said. I looked around. Andy! It was Tim, about three Porta-Potty lines down.

The show that night was damn good. I danced my ass off. And I spent some of my new money on beers for Tim and me. After the show, Tim rushed us out to the bus because someone told him they give out spaghetti when you get back, but only if youre on the first bus. This sounded fantastic to me. I was drunk and, as Tim later told me, I made a fool out of myself at the bus stop shouting generally misogynistic remarks at passing girls. But we got on the first bus. But Monica wasnt our bus driver. It was Debra. And it was her birthday too. Back at Camp Close By we debarked and sure enough, there was an assembly line of cooks and servers waiting for us. Not only did Tim and I each receive a heaping bowl of spaghetti and sauce, but the last server in the line gently laid one, single vegetarian meat ball on top. Tim and I ate as we walked and were finished by the time we reached our camp and lit a joint. That night we each fell asleep early. But I woke up in the middle of the night because our neighbors were playing



charades or some other kind of guessing game. I climbed out of the tent, opened a beer and sat to smoke a cigarette. This guy in passing asked me for a light so I gave him one and then he asked me if I wanted to smoke a bowl so I said yes and then he sat down. Devin, he said, holding out his hand. Andy, I said, and shook his hand. We smoked and talked about the show and the free spaghettihe was on the second bus and missed itand then towards the end of it he asked me if I wanted a balloon. Sure, I said. Be right back, he said and ran off. He was back almost immediately with two balloons and we huffed them quickly. WAWAWAAAWAAWAWAWAAA You know, he said, in a deep voice. I know where we could buy a tank right here at this camp. A tank? I asked, with surprisingly deep voice. Yeah, a tank, you interested? A little, I said. Well, come with me, Ill show you. So I followed Devin towards the entrance of the campsite, really the dividing line between the parking area and the camping area. Guarding this border was a stocky, short guy on a fourwheeler. His shirt read, Camp Close By. Hey buddy, said Devin to the camp employee. Whats up? he said. My buddy and I wanted to take you up on that offer, Devin said. The two of you? Yeah. I dont think I can take both of you on my four-wheeler, said the employee. Sure, you can, said Devin. Ill ride here on the front and hell ride on back. Alright, said the employee. Hop on. I held on to the stocky man as he drove us through camp, around the pond, and down a small trail in a corn field to a large, once-red, now


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black and brown barn. He stopped the four-wheeler about twenty feet from the barn and told us to wait here. He walked around the barn and out of sight. I looked at Devin. He was grinning madly. The front doors to the barn opened and a man stood in the doorway motioning for us. Devin leading, we walked to the barn, stepped in, and the man closed the doors behind us. The bar walls, on both floors, were lined, some three and four deep, with hundreds of sixty-pound tanks full of nitrous-oxide gas. How many youd wanted? asked the doorman. He looked like James Spader. Only older. And slightly cross-eyed. How many did we want? Devin asked me. How much are they? I asked. Three hundred, said the doorman. I didnt really want to buy one in the first place. How much do you have? I asked Devin. No, this is all you, he said. All you. The doorman waited for me to say something. I said, I dont have three hundred dollars. Dont waste my time, said the doorman. Get the fuck outta here. We walked out and saw the four-wheeler driver on his mount. Our ride was waiting for us. But he looked confused. The doorman for the driver to leave. Assholes, said the driver, gunning off into the cornfield. I trust you remember the way back, said the doorman as he closed the barn doors. Lets go, said Devin. Fuck you, I said. Three hundred dollars? Whatever, dude, lets go. We walked into the cornfield and a few yards deep Devin stopped and yelped, Wasnt that ridiculous! What? That was insane, dont you realize? I didnt care if you bought a tank or not I just wanted to see if it was true! Holy shit, man! Devin started laughing. I laughed too. Oh, man, that shit was just too much, Devin said, and continued walking.



PART FOU R At Some Time Or Another, Were All Miracle-Seekers

n 2002 I flew to Virginia for a few Phish concerts. In the winter of 2003 I drove through New England, then flew to North Carolina for a series of Phish concerts. That same summer I flew to Washington for a pair of concerts, and on my way back to New York I scheduled a layover in Kansas City for a Phish concert. Back in New York I drove down to North Carolina then back up through West Virginia to New Jersey for a few more concerts. Then I flew to Miami for the 2003 New Years run. And this last summer I drove first from Brooklyn to Wisconsin and then a month later back down to Virginia for a concert, then up to Boston for a pair, then continued north to Vermont for Phishs final festival. Not counting any transportation time or road time or hotel time, only time spent in the parking lot before the show or inside the venue itself, Ive spent over eleven days of my life at Phish concerts.


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And of the twelve shows I saw during the summer of 2004, I arrived at only one with a ticket. Of the eight shows I saw during the summer of 2003, I arrived to only four shows with tickets. And each afternoon I arrived without a ticket was an afternoon I spent separated from my friends, comfortable with their tickets in their back pockets. While they drank and celebrated, I more often wandered through the parking lot with a finger in the air, hoping someone would be kind enough to sell me his extra ticket. Some shows were easier to get than others. In Miami for New Years, people couldnt give away their extra tickets. There were tickets covering the sidewalk in front of the gates to the venue. On the other hand, at the first Brooklyn show last summer, no one had extra tickets. It was the tours kick off show and the band was playing at Coney Island. It was raining and the lot was full of wet miracle-seekers, myself included. That afternoon I ended up paying the subway fare and cutting all the miracle-seekers at the turnstiles so I could hit the incoming pedestrians first. Eventually, I bought a ticket for just under face but it wasnt for trying, and standing in the rain, and desperately running into the train station, and cutting ahead of a dozen other ticket-less hippies. It was a similar experience finding a ticket for the second night at Coney Island. No, thats just not right. I remember now. Brian sold me that ticket. And that was the night Jay-Z joined Phish on stage for a couple of songs, including 99 Problems. In Burgettstown two summers back Tim bought four tickets off a guy for a hundred dollars flat so he gave me one, took one for himself, and sold the other two for fifty apiece. And at The Gorge that summer I bought a ticket for ten bucks. But this last summer, it wasnt that easy. I paid seventy dollars for a fifty dollar ticket in Saratoga. Sixty in Virginia. Seventy for the first night in Mansfield, Mass. And seventy for the second night in Indiana. But it was that second night in Mansfield that really worried me. We got to the lot real late, maybe only two hours before show time and Tim had his ticket already so I was on my own. I ran around from friend to friend, asking all of them if they knew of anyone and when they each said no I asked for them to keep their ears open. Walking along the entrance with my finger in the air, I counted over twenty other miracle-seekers. We were everywhere.



Almost as many people had their fingers up as didnt. Someone was singing, Birds of a feather Are flocking outside This looks pretty grim, I told a girl with her finger in the air. I know, she said, genuinely concerned. Ive never been shut out of a show, she said. Me neither, I said. Tonight might be that night, she said. I couldnt accept that. Good luck, I said. You too, she said. And if you cant find one were all gonna rush just after the second song. I made my way back through the lot and around again but most everyone was inside the venue by this time. A steady stream of cars still poured into the lot but all the miracle-seekers lined both sides of those cars from entrance to aisle. I walked back to Tims car and grabbed a few packs of cigarettes. I had given up and figured I should at least work if Im not going to get in the show. I hit the gates and stood with my back to the entrance holding up in one hand a pack of Camel Lights and a pack of Marlboro Lights. I held my beer in the other hand. I sold a few packs instantly and then just as quickly a pair of police officers approached me, took my packs and my beer and handcuffed me. I didnt ask any questions and they didnt say a word and after about ten minutes they unlocked my cuffs and sent me on my way. I stepped into a rather densely foliaged area and took a piss, thinking I shouldnt give up and that Ive never been shut out but the shows about to start and it doesnt look good so maybe tonight was the night I stayed in the parking lot. Zipping my fly, I accepted that. But coming out of the bushes I stuck my finger in the air anyway and I held up my last pack of cigarettes too. Making my way across the stream of incoming traffic, a driver called out to me. Cigarettes, he said. I walked up to his window. Five bucks, I said and handed him the pack. Hows this? he asked, handing me a ticket. Even better, I said. Then I screamed. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I said. No problem, he said. Ive been in your position. Thanks for the smokes.


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The last time I was in Massachusetts was on the roadtrip during the Democratic National Convention and the time before that was for Phishs Twentieth Anniversary Show and the time before that was for the Worcester show on Winter Tour 2003. Again, it was Sam and me in Worcester. We took a bus up to Boston where we stayed at a hotel and then took a train to Worcester and shared a cab to the venue. The morning after the show we wandered around Boston and eventually landed at a historical landmark turned mini-mall where we stopped at Ben and Jerrys and the employee, a red-haired Santa Claus who called himself Rainbow, served us ice cream and then asked me if I caught the show in Worcester. I did, I said. How was it? he asked. Pretty good, I said. I wanted to go but Next time, I said. Hey, have you ever tried salvia? Tried what? Its a lot like pot but its totally legal and it gives you this crazy high, Rainbow told me. Okay. Wanna try some? he asked. Ill roll you a joint right now. I watched Rainbow pull out of his pocket a bag of what looked like pot. And he started to roll a joint right there on the counter. What are you doing? asked Sam. Nothing, I said. Rainbow handed me this joint of salvia. Now go outside and smoke this and come back and tell me what you think, said Rainbow. Okay, I said, taking the joint. Sam, lets go. Outside the mall I lit the joint and started smoking. Sam? I offered. No thanks, she said. I dont smoke weird shit from people named Rainbow before noon. So I smoked the whole thing myself, waited a minute, and still felt nothing. Lets go back in, I said. Walking in the mall back towards the Ben and Jerrys I didnt feel even the slightest bit high. Then it hit me and suddenly I was floating



above my body watching myself with a third person perspective as I walked through the mall. Then it was over. We had reached the Ben and Jerrys. Well? Rainbow asked, excitedly. It was definitely something, I said. Thats right, Rainbow replied. That was in February and in May I was in New Orleans at my grandmothers house late one night watching television with my father. We were stoned. Channel-surfing, we landed on Comedy Centrals Insomniac. And Dave Attell, the shows host, was in Boston being chased by a red-headed, overall-clad Santa Claus. What you say your name was? Dave Attell asked, while retreating. Rainbow, he said. Jesus, dad, I said. I know that guy. Which one? my father asked. Rainbow, I said. He gave me this weird shit to smoke when I was in Boston last winter. What was it? my father asked. It was something, I said.

I think thats what Ill tell my children when they ask me about Phish tour. When Im old and whittling and I hear my teenage son blasting Phish on his stereo, Ill stomp in there and whoop his ass. But really, if I have children, and they indeed ask me about the experiences I had while following the band Phish, Ill tell them it was something. It was something, Ill say. Some of the best times of my life, Ill say. That was when I was younger, older than you, but still a kid. And I dont know about The Grateful Dead, and I only know a little about Phish, but I can honestly say this: it was all about the music. You didnt do drugs, dad? Of course, I did drugs, Ill say. But thats not why I went to Phish shows. I went for the music. For that moment when youre dancing with your eyes closed and the world disappears. Shut up, dad. No, Im serious. Maybe youll have one of those moments in your life, maybe you already have. And if you have, you understand. Maybe youll have dozens, even hundreds of those moments. I know I have.


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Music is special in that way. And Phish was special to me because of that. Whatever, dad. Whatever, Ill mock.



PART F IVE The Final Drive, The Final Festival, The Final Concert : Coventry, Vermont

woke up in my tent alone. What sounded like the roar of a beastly car engine just rampaged past my tent. Outside familiar music was playing but what woke me was not the nearby and distant ambient noise of a dozen boom boxes playing Phish or Moe or String Cheese Incident or Disco Biscuits. No, what woke me up that first morning at Coventry was the roar of a beastly car engine rampaging past my tent. In my sleepy stupor, I heard cheers and applause. Is someone in that tent? I heard a girl ask. In my tent with me I had my pack, a few cartons of cigarettes, and my sleeping bag, which I collapsed upon late last night. The blue vinyl walls of my tent are glowing from the high noon sun. I assumed it was around noon. Still dressed from last night, I unzipped my door and poured myself out into the world. The sun was bright and the air smelled fresh but still


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cool and damp, definitely before noon. Tim and those camping with us or near us, including his girlfriend and her brother, cheered and exclaimed, Hes alive! Morning, I said, stretching, reaching to the sky. I yawned, roaring. Dude, Tim said. You almost died. He points to the other side of my tent where I see deep tire tracks in the mud heading first for higher ground then swerving right, heading straight for my tent, then deep left avoiding my tent by only a few feet. They were gunning out the mud and man we all thought you were awake but then they started sliding right for your tent and dude said a bright-eyed hippie, laughing. They almost took you out! I laughed, said my good mornings to everyone, made myself a Bloody Mary from the cooler, sat down and surveyed the scene. We had arrived late last night straight from Mansfield, Massachusetts, skipping the Camden show. We cruised up back roads, mostly state routes I fingered out on the map to avoid traffic, but then, as expected, when we reached Vermonts Route 5, we hit a stand-still. I started drinking rum and coke in the backseat while we listened to the Camden show live on the Coventry Festival radio station, The Bunny. Its an interesting sensation to be in a line of thousands of cars parked on a road that normally would allocate forty or fifty miles an hour. Along Route 5 there are homes and families, some of whom stood in their front lawns with tables and tents, selling anything from homemade jewelry to hot dogs to smores. Four or five hours later, nothing terrible really, we rolled onto Airport Road and into the Festival grounds, the Newport State Airport with crisscrossing runways. We arrived a full two nights before the weekend of concerts so the camping area we were assigned was relatively close to the runways and the main drag of commerce and gathering, an area much too large to call Shakedown Street. It wasnt raining when we arrived but the ground was wet and a little muddy so as soon as we parked, all the gypsies jumped out of their caravans; everyone scrambled madly to set up camp on the driest patches and make claim to areas large enough for their factions. The scene was quite chaotic and frenzied. Boyfriends yelled at girlfriends setting up tents without first laying down tarps. Neighbors argued over communal space now deemed individual territory. Some hippies abandoned their caravans all together



and carried what they could up the nearby hill to camp on higher ground. I stood there watching the whole scene drinking my drink until Tim yelled at me to set up my tent as to complete the half-circle of our camp. Hey, man, a neighbor said to me. Do you have any D size batteries? No, sorry, I said, continuing to pitch my tent, which, while holding a drink in one hand, wasnt working at all. I decided to rest and relax, finish my drink, before setting up camp. Tims girlfriend, Becca, approached me and asked if I was going to set up tonight or, from the looks of it, in the morning. I havent decided yet, I said. But what if you meet some cute girl tonight, where will you take her if you dont have a tent? Ill take her back to her tent, I said, finishing my drink. Then I thought it over. Alright, come on, give me a hand with these stakes here. And we set up my tent together while everyone else, all set up, sat down for their first beers of the night. It was maybe one or two in the morning. A neighboring gypsy, a long-haired bearded guy with a light complexion, introduced himself and asked if anyone wanted to smoke so we sat around and smoked a joint until the neighbor said he was going to go towards the entrance and grab a bite from one of the vendors over there. Ill take a walk, I said. Let me just freshen my drink. We got acquainted walking though the aisles of cars and caravans and tents and canopies. His name was Charlie and he was from New Mexico, worked for Southwest Airlines, flew out to Boston for free where he rented a car and drove up to Vermont for the weekend. My girlfriend couldnt get off work, he said, as we tromped towards the runway. She wouldnt like this mud anyway. I dont know what were gonna do if it turns out like they say it will. What do you mean? I ask. Didnt you see the weather? Vermonts expecting like six tropical storms this weekend. This whole place is gonna turn to mud. We kept walking, trying not to imagine the impending doom of a 100,000 caravans, 100,000 hippies, all huddled together waist-deep in mud. Walking up the runway against the flow of incoming traffic, I asked


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those with windows down if they had extra tickets. Some got the joke and laughed while others offered an apologetic, no. Amidst the dark landscape of a tangled jungle of campsites and vendors, illuminated somewhat frighteningly by a sparse forest of tall, stadium lights, Charles and I soaked up our new home, where we would live for the next five days and nights. I made note of the tall stadium light closest to our camp for the return voyage. At the entrance we ordered food from the large tented caravan of some global hippie cult. Their set up was rather sweet: a wooden caravan, with some on-site assembly surely required, complete with a kitchen and seating area. Charlie ordered a gyro and I ordered a slice of apple pie. Back at the site most of our crew was gone and Charlie and I found Tim sitting drinking with one of the volunteer parking/camping attendants. They were drinking my beer. Tim had pulled out his boom box and tuned it to The Bunny, which was now playing its rotation of its station call letters: B-U, B-U, B-U-NN-Y. B-U, B-U, B-U-N-N-Y. Hows it look out there? Tim asked. Crowded, I answered, opening a beer. Yo, said the volunteer parking attendant. Can I get another beer? Uh, sure, I said. Whats your name? Oh, sorry, he said, shaking my hand. Im Jack. Isnt this great? Yeah, I said. Have you guys been doing the whole tour? Yup. Wow, he said, gulping his beer. Ive never seen Phish, never been to a Phish concert, but my buddies said we should all volunteer so I came along and Ive just been meeting all these nice, amazing people from all over and drinking beer and smoking pot and just you are just the nicest people in the world, did you know that? We laughed and the radio started playing that Fat Boy Slim song that loops Christopher Walken saying, Ive got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. More cowbell! screamed someone in the distance. Some people screamed with primitive joy. An explosion of fireworks lit up the campground. Even more people screamed.



The next morning, after a few Bloody Marys, I went walking on my own through the grounds and the daylight made it that much more apparent: thousands had gathered here for the weekend for Phishs final concert. Walking along the runway, flanked on both sides by vendors selling food and T-shirts and paraphernalia, I passed teenagers, twentysomethings, middle-aged women, elderly men, couples with babies, the whole spectrum of gypsy demographics had made their way to Coventry to see this band play two more concerts. Everyone was smiling, happy to be there and happier to be there a day early because that meant today could be a day to wander freely among the throngs, a day without schedule, a day of preparation for the forty-eight hour party on the horizon. But some had started partying already, myself included, and we were the ones who had already abandoned our shoes. We held beers in our hands and extra cans in our pockets and walked flat-footed and slow. One such hippie, a cute teenage girl with a crew-cut, was walking alongside me and when I said, hello, she said: Would you like some mushroom chocolates? Yes, yes, I would, I said. Okay, great, lets go over here. We made our way off the runway between vendors and found and dry spot under someones canopy and took a seat. She showed me the chocolates and I talked her down from thirty to twenty a piece and then bought two. Where are you from? she asked. Brooklyn, I said. Oh, wow, werent those Coney Island shows just the best? I agreed. Yeah, Im from Wisconsin, making my way across the country with the band. Thats wonderful, I said. Do you want to smoke, are you on your way to someone? No, Id love to smoke, I said. Great, she said, removing a pipe and a bag from her satchel. I had to make some quick gas money for a friend I owe so I got these chocolates but you just bought the last of them so I think I can take a break for a minute.


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Of course you can, I said, licking my lips. This girl couldnt be older than sixteen, I thought. How long have you been growing your dreads? she asked. Almost four years, I said. She reached out and gave one a squeeze. Thats wonderful, she said, then rubbed her head. I had to cut mine off at the beginning of tour. Thats too bad. Yeah, she said. Bugs. Bugs? She lit the bowl and inhaled and then, exhaling and cloud of smoke, she said, Lice. I hit the bowl myself. Bummer, I said, exhaling. She nodded. I nodded. Someone walked past us with a glance and a smile. I love traveling, she said. Its really the only time I feel free, free to wander, free to see new things, free to meet new people she motioned to me. I hit the bowl again, nodding. But I miss home, miss my friends, I miss my iguana, she said. Whats his name? I asked. Her, she said, hitting the bowl. Her name is Pandora. I used to have an iguana, I said. Really? What happened? He ran away, I said. Thats so sad, she said, looking at me sorrowfully. Then her look changed. I leaned in slowly and kissed her small lips. She kissed back, scooting closer and we held each other kissing sweetly, without tongue. Then she pulled away and giggled, blushing, and I chuckled, and kissed her again, running my hand along the back of her neck up her peach fuzz head. I heard someone walking up but I didnt hear them walk past so I pulled away and saw a guy digging in the cooler near the van under the canopy we were sitting under. He sat down in a chair with a beer and smiled at us. The girl packed up her bowl and her pot and smiled, saying, I should go, Ill see you later. Then she gave me a kiss and trotted off through



nearby cars. Sorry, dude, the sitting hippie said. Want a beer? Sure, I said. He gave me a beer, I thanked him, and made my way back to the runway, which I walked along until reaching the familiar blue and gray van that I knew to turn after into the camping and walk straight until finding my camp. Charlie was sitting there smoking a joint so I sat with him and said I got some mushroom chocolates if he wanted one. How much? he asked. Thirty, I said. Sure, he said, so I traded him hallucinogenic chocolate for cash and we each ate our pieces.

Later that afternoon and into evening, Charlie and I walked along the runway tripping and selling cigarettes to passing gypsies. The competition was tough as most people who were there, hippies who had arrived a day early, were well prepared, meaning they either had a supply of cigarettes or a surplus and were selling right along with me. Standing barefoot on the runway, I studied the faces of the passing hippies hoping to catch a familiar one but I didnt see a single friend that afternoon. Then suddenly the air grew humid and dark clouds coasted in and almost instantly a fierce pelting of rain hit the campgrounds. Charlie took off running without a word and I followed a pair of girls under one of the Coventry information tents for shelter. An information volunteer came over and told me, and everyone, we couldnt stand there and that its just water. I pulled out a pack of cigarettes and handed him two. He put one behind his ear and the other in his mouth and lit it. You cant smoke here either, he told me, smiling. The rain continued to fall in sheets. Semi-transparent walls of rain could be seen on the horizon. Rain collected in puddles and I watched those puddles grow and grow and grow until a thin sheet of floodwater coated the ground. Then the rain stopped and the information tent emptied. I walked back to the runway crossroads where I stood selling cigarettes until evening when the carton was gone and I had fifty dollars in my pocket. Then I made my way back to camp where I found Tim and Becca and all sitting, scowling, drinking, soaking wet. How are you dry? Tim asked me as I walked up.


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I stayed out of the rain, I said, laughing, sitting. You have any pot? Are you tripping? Maybe, I said, pupils undoubtedly dilated. Wheres Charlie? Havent seen him all day, Tim said, pulling out his pipe. Thought he was with you. He was, I said, laughing, remembering how quickly he ran when it started raining. I was laughing hysterically. He was with me, I said. Youre tripping face, Tim said, laughing, handing me the bowl. Did you meet any girls? Theyre everywhere! Becca said. Yeah, I said, hitting the pipe. Yeah, I made a friend.

The gypsy identity is often considered or described as the other, as the gypsies represent an alternative to social norms and conventions. Now because of this majority-held view of gypsies, methods of control and dispatch can be seen in the gypsy encampments and congregations, meaning, the majority of society controls the gypsies by keeping them on the outskirts, pooled together under certain regional and timely restraints be those festivals or otherwise. Coventry was to be the last great gathering of the American gypsies, and unbridled revelry would be the theme of this event. Quite bluntly, no one cared how or under what conditions we were all allowed to be at the Newport State Airport that weekend. We just knew this would be the last time. All bets were off. Anything could happen. And the familiar underlying commerce of tour was trumped by the communal feeling of a Louisiana jazz band funeral procession. We had come to Vermont for the death of this band but we would not mourn. We would celebrate and dance and see this event for what it truly was: one last ride, one last song, one last party. The end had been coming, even before the bands two-year hiatus from 2000-2002. Then, after hiatus ended, everyone was happy and joyous for the return of this culture and lifestyle, for without jam bands, specifically Phish, all these gypsies are homeless, or, more correctly, bound to their homes. And in gypsy culture, if thats not homelessness, its at least imprisonment. Because after this, its all over.



The afternoon of the first pair of concerts I woke slowly, sipping my Bloody Mary through a straw. I had tripped all afternoon and then again from midnight to dawn and the next afternoon, rainy and wet, was a perfect fit for my disposition. I stayed close to camp that afternoon, just resting up for what would surely be a long, eventful evening. The campgrounds, relatively speaking, were calm and quiet, but a long line of caravans still consistently poured in through the gates. Meanwhile, The Bunny, periodically announced an utter lack of campgrounds as the rain had muddied the airport, rendering it uninhabitable. The festival organizers were in a panic, parking cars and buses on the runways, in surrounding farmland, anywhere they could and the radio claimed tens of thousands of gypsy hippies still clogged Route 5 even then, mere hours from show time. I have a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. Someone screamed. I called my parents. I hear its kinda muddy up there, my dad says. It made the national news last night. Traffic looks terrible. Yeah, I guess theyre lined up for miles and miles, I say. Thats why we got here early. So is it muddy? Yup, I say, standing ankle-deep in cold, thick muck. A hippie trudging past me squeals as he slips and falls into the mud. What was that? my dad asks. Some dude, I say. Andy! Tim yells. Come here. I gotta go, dad. Just wanted to give a call and say Im here. Alright, have fun. I find Tim smoking pot and he says, The radio just said theyre giving full refunds for tickets because they just cant park any more cars. Theyre turning people away! Holy shit! Yeah, Tim says, handing me the joint. Turning them away I sip the joint, thinking. Turning them away? Turning them away

What happened next still amazes me to this day. Of the some 10,000 hippies in their cars parked on Route 5, some having been there for over


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twenty-four hours, excluding the few hundred that turned back and drove home, all the rest parked their cars, locked their doors, grabbed their gear and walked as much as ten miles into the festival campgrounds. The gypsies abandoned their caravans and walked to the final concert. They poured in by foot in droves by the thousand and set up tents wherever they pleased. It was quite miraculous in that human spirit of determination sort of way. I was impressed. Late that afternoon Tim and a few of us headed to the stage where we agreed upon a home-base half-way up the hill on Page-side and I cut the long line into the beer garden where I sat and drank for a good hour before I finally saw a friend I didnt travel with: Dave. I met Dave somewhere on tour 2003 and caught up with him if not every show then every other show. We had a good time together that summer. He likes to dance as much, if not more, than I do. And Dave is always smiling. But at Coventry in the beer garden, he looked wrecked. Beaten. Haggard and worse. How the fuck are you? I asked, after we smiled and hugged. We just got here, he said. What do you mean? I asked. We just got here, he said. My car is parked on Route 5 about seven miles down. We walked in, walked straight here, to the beer garden. I mean, we just fucking got here. Wow. Yeah... But you made it, man, youre here. Yeah... Its gonna be worth it, I said. Well see, he said, finishing his beer. Sit tight, I said. Let me go grab us another beer. Ill be here, he said, rubbing his forehead. I waited in line, ordered two beers and the girl handed them to me without asking for money. Then she said, next, so I walked away. Back with Dave, his girlfriend was there too, and the three of us chatted a bit about the Mansfield shows and slowly but surely Dave came back to life and by the time I left him and his girl, they were both smiling widely, happy to be there. Making my way back to Tim and all I heard someone call my name.



It was Brian with Bubba and the rest of his crew. It was quite a reunion and everyone was thrilled to see me. Did you guys walk in? I asked. Fuck no, Brian said. We jumped in the car just before encore at Camden and made it up here around midnight last night. Twenty-four hours in the car, Bubba said. But it was worth it, Brian said. Wasnt Camden amazing! YEM into Ghost into Maze into fuckin Catapult back into Maze! Yeah, I listened to it on The Bunny, I said. We skipped Camden. Brian and crew were stunned and silent, almost apologetic. Well, Brian said. Thats cool, this is what its all about anyway. Yeah, I said, sorry to disappoint the boys. Where you sitting? Half-way up, Page-side. Alright, man, Brian said. Well see you there, we gotta cruise Mikes side for Tom and Eric. See you soon, I said, and we parted. I found Tim and Charlie and the rest. Andy, Charlie called to me. He held a bag of mushrooms in his hand. Oh yeah? I asked. He nodded. I dug in the bag and tossed a handful in my mouth. Thanks, Charlie, I said. Sure, he said, eyes wide and pupils dilated. This shit is really good. We settled in for the show, which would start within the hour. Everyone around us looked ready, happy, smiling, anxious for the music. Men comprise the majority of Phish audiences but at Coventry there was a pleasantly surprising amount of women, maybe a 60-40 split unlike the usual 80-20. Some had brought chairs to the stage, some blankets, some just beer or bottled water. As with most any concert, security searched bags and purses at the entrance to the stage area. But as with most Phish concerts, you could get anything inside. I saw people with full cases of beer. I saw a few bongs in the crowd too.

What do you think? Tim asked me. Hhmmmm I said. He was asking me about my pick for an


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opening song. Tim and I, throughout the runs we made together, developed quite a knack, as most any tour kid does, for predicting set lists. Honestly, for most any shows we saw together, we could predict, between the two of us, every song Phish played. First it was a game, then a contest, and then more of a science than anything else. After a long drive between shows its not uncommon for the band to play Contact. As an encore for a mediocre show, the band may play Good Times Bad Times. And at a show with many ticketless people listening outside the venue, the band is likely to play Birds Of A Feather. For instance, at the third night of New Years shows in Miami, without Tim, Sam doubted my set list prediction skills, so I wrote down a list of five songs I thought were coming based only on the previous two concerts. And Phish played all five that night. Also, the night before, at that same run in Miami, I sold a pack of cigarettes to a man who looked just like Jim Morrison so I told Sams brother that Phish would cover a Doors tune. Sure enough they played Break On Through. Im thinking Disease, I told Tim. Or maybe Twist. Or even 46 Days. No way, Tim said. Maybe 46 Days, but I doubt it. Then what? Either YEM or AC/DC Bag, Tim said. They wont open with YEM, I said. Well see. Then the audience howled and everyone sitting stood up. Phish had taken the stage.

The show was spectacular. I danced and sang and everyone in the audience let loose and shed any inhibitions or expectations, specifically the pressures we often put on the band to play certain songs. Ive been to shows where fans are outwardly disappointed to hear songs like Friday or Free but at that show, everyone enjoyed the music. And the band played practically flawlessly. They listened to each other and Trey held back just enough to give the other boys opportunities to lead the band in different directions, directions Trey wouldnt normally take the music.



But most importantly, they enjoyed themselves. At one point, I closed my eyes for a jam, as I often do, and danced calmly, swaying, letting the music wash over me and everyone else around me. Nothing mattered. I was barely a physical being. The whole mess of reality bottlenecked into a single song, an improvised jam by four talented musicians. If this comes off as anything but sincere and heartfelt, I apologize. Thats a failure on my part as a writer. But if it does feel genuine and unadulterated, let it be known that Ive only experienced that moment listening to Phish, and any altered state I may have been in would only have enhanced that sensation and not created it.

Set list 8/14/04 Set 1 Walls of the Cave -> Runaway Jim -> Gotta Jibboo You Enjoy Myself -> Sample in a Jar Axilla Poor Heart Run Like an Antelope Fire Set 2 AC/DC Bag -> 46 Days -> Halleys Comet -> Ya Mar [Trey speech] David Bowie Character Zero Set 3 Twist -> The Wedge Stash -> Free [Trey speech] Guyute Drowned -> jam -> Friday

The next afternoon I woke wearing the same clothes yet again. In the previous three nights the mud had made its way into my tent, into my sleeping bag, my underwear, my ears, under Encore my fingernails, and dried Harry Hood into a thick cast from my toes to my calves. I climbed out the tent and stepped into the cold, juicy mud, something of a comfort after sleep.


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A light drizzle landed upon my face as I stretched and yawned and I joined Tim, the only one awake, under the canopy. Morning, Tim said. Morning, I said, opening the cooler, remembering I had finished my Bloody Mary mix the previous morning. I opened a beer and sat down. I have a fever! someone screamed. More fuckin cowbell! someone else screamed. Tim and I laughed and he lit a joint and I turned on The Bunny. This is an important announcement, the DJ spoke. For those of you who parked your cars on Route 5 yesterday and walked in The campsite howled. Just to let you know, your cars wont be towed. So please dont rush out after tonights concert. Your cars can remain parked until three PM tomorrow, so no procrastinating, but just dont rush out. Again, if you parked your cars Thats a joke, I said, hitting the joint. What? Tim asked. As if they even had the capabilities to tow 10,000 cars! Where the fuck would they put them? More cowbell! someone yelled. Yeah, I guess youre right, Tim said, picking at his feet. I looked at mine. They were rugged, cut and splintered. In an effort to battle the mud, the festival organizers laid down tons of wood chips but almost entirely in vain. Tim and I spent that morning, rather afternoon, pulling splinters from our feet and smoking pot and listening to The Bunny that replayed last nights Phish concert. And soon enough, it was time for us to make our way back to the stage.

Waiting for the band, the audience was calmer than usual, generally slow moving. After settling in, Page-side once again, I went meandering through the crowd in search of a few friends I had yet to see. I feared they were of the few who turned back. But then again, there were thousands of hippies at Coventry that weekend and the likelihood of me seeing all of my friends, even though it was extremely likely at each show on tour, the likelihood of seeing them at this Festival was slim to none. Or so thats



how I justified it. The audience seemed tired and somber and especially muddy. Everyone wore looks of exhaustion or so it seemed to me. They could have merely been thinking too hard. This was the final concert. And for some of these people, some of these gypsies, this meant a lot more than that. It meant a lifestyle, or at least a community, was dying. And some, unless I imagined it, seemed to blame the band for all of this. On the other hand, I respect Phishs decision. Twenty years is a long time and an even longer time when eight months of the year is spent on the road. And things had changed. They were older, the audience was younger, and the music at times seemed trumped by superficial details of the concerts. The drug scene had always been there but now more than ever. Teenagers were going to Phish shows for drugs. And while tickets were never much of an issue for me or other seasoned fans, before any tour tickets sold on Ebay for three sometimes four times face value. And also the posters. For almost every show the band had an artist design a limited edition poster and, based solely on Internet sales, your poster, if you got in line early enough, doubled in value instantly. But who really knows why Phish called it quits. Obviously it was Treys decision and be his reasoning age or family or the degradation of the scene, he ended it all and that decision effected thousands of gypsies now done with touring or turning their attention to bands like Moe or String Cheese. So of course this final concert, these last three sets had a weight to them unlike any concert Ive ever been to. The air was thick with bittersweet emotion as thousands of hippies waited to see what songs Phish would play as a send off into the night and the resultant world, a world without the community of Phish.

With those first notes of Mikes Song, the audience snapped out of our somber stupor and danced feverishly. We danced like it was the last concert because we knew it was and that consciousness, that awareness created a reference in the crowd that manifested itself in individuals dancing wildly, joyously. Out of respect, we offered up our bodies in the way of dance. We were solipsistic only because we knew thats how the band wanted us. Phish played like they played in the old days, the days during which I


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was a young teen with bootleg tapes as my only knowledge or experience of Phish. And during set break, the crowd gasped for breath, regaining our composure. Only two more sets. Tim, Charlie, Becca, and I rode the festival Ferris Wheel, and at its peak, looking out over the crowd of thousands, everything felt right. This was the only way to end it.

Set list 8/15/04 Set 1 Mikes Song -> I am Hydrogen -> Weekapaug Groove Anything But Me Reba Carini -> Chalkdust Torture -> Possum Wolfmans Brother -> jam (the sexy bump) -> Wolfmans Brother -> Taste

During Wading in the Velvet Sea, Page choked on the lyrics and tears dripped down his face. Ill admit, I grew teary and wrapped my arms around myself, careful not to look at anyone I knew. I wanted to share this moment with Page. For those of you who havent experienced Phish as I have, I know this must sound silly. During that song Page shared with us those sad emotions all of us had been feeling all weekend. And to know we were indeed sharing those feelings, not just amongst ourselves, but with the band, was an uncontrived and entirely necessary moment. Beautiful even. And when Trey, Page, Mike, and Jon sang the acappella section of Glide, most everyone had tears in their eyes. Set 2 How often do you have Down With Disease -> the opportunity to say Wading in the Velvet Sea goodbye to a friend, someone Glide with whom youve shared [band speech] years of your life? Split Open and Melt -> Even writing this now, jam (blowing off steam) -> Im saying goodbye all over Ghost again.



When music speaks more than you ever thought it could, the experience is what I imagine a religious epiphany to be like. There are powerful things in this world, things like invention and desire and fear and poetry and trust and music things never to be underestimated. That final Slave was unlike any song Ive ever heard, and Ive since refused to listen to the recording of it. Some moments cannot be captured or recorded and the moment Phish played that song at Coventry is one such moment. During the song the audience made offerings of gratitude to the band. A dozen fans at first, then two dozen, then three and four, carried a gigantic egg-shaped white balloon from the farthest corner of the crowd all the way to the stage. Then, a long serpent of glowsticks made its way across the top of the audience to the stage, snaking and curling and dropping and lifting, almost every audience hand touched it. Set 3 The love and gratitude Fast Enough for You of the fans for this band was Seven Below -> suddenly made tangible. Simple -> Phish has always been Piper -> more than a band to me Bruno -> and most everyone else who Dickie Scotland -> has ever driven hundreds Wilson -> of miles to see a concert. Slave to the Traffic Light And that final song, during [fireworks] which offerings were made and graciously accepted, the Encore audience, these thousands of [Trey speech] fans made and kept over two The Curtain decades of musicianship, found a way to express their love and admiration for the music and the entire lifestyle support system that resulted. Then the band concluded with an encore and left the stage for the final time.

Walking back from the stage that night was a sobering event. Through the mud, knee-deep, surrounded by a thousand gypsy hippies, we made our way back to the runway and dispersed amidst the previously empty and


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undoubtedly ghostly campgrounds. Everyone was at that final concert and I can only imagine what the vast campsite may have felt like if you were the sole hippie wandering through it. But now, after the show, we all made our way back home, or to vendors for food, or to pushers for drugs that would keep this evening from ending. But it was already over. And on that walk back I ran into all the friends I had sought out during the weekend. I saw Katie, Ryan, Oliver, Javier, Megan, Ethan, and George. But we had nothing to say to each other anymore. We merely smiled or in some cases hugged and kept on our separate paths. The concert was over. The trip was over. The connection we had, the music we shared, what originally brought us together and made us friends, was now a part of history.

The next morning I came out of my tent and found the campgrounds practically empty. Scores of caravans had already made their way to the runways and sat in line for their exit and what was surely a long drive home. Those still parked in the mud sat waiting for a truck to pull them out and those braver planned paths and had drivers floor the accelerator to hopefully gain enough momentum to plow through the muck to the road. That morning and into the afternoon was a day of quick getaways and muddy incarcerations. The grounds were littered with trash and abandoned tents, shoes, gas grills, emergency now empty gas cans, and all other manner of a temporary civilization now abandoned. Even the Porta-Potties contained evidence of a now dead society and complete disregard for anyone coming to sift through the rubble. And soon enough, the traffic started to move towards the exit and we followed, riding out of the festival grounds away from Coventry and south out of Vermont. Tim and I had spent so much time together on tour that this last drive seemed to be a little too much and around Poughkeepsie we had one final difference of opinion and agreed that the best thing to do was to drop me off at the Poughkeepsie train station. I then took the train into Manhattans Grand Central Station where I hopped on the subway towards Brooklyn. I stood on the train simultaneously shocked and revitalized by the fluorescent lights and



rocking motion and familiar stops of the subway. Covered in mud, stinking from a week without showers, straddling my giant pack, I was that horrid pedestrian on the train. Commuters moved to opposite ends of the car, away from my stench. At some point, a homeless man, still dirtier and smellier than myself, made his way through the car asking riders for spare change and when he came to me he simply nodded and continued on his way.

Back in Brooklyn, I walked down Classon to my apartment and entered after only a brief struggle with my keys. Inside, the living room looked the same except a little more cluttered, a little dirtier than I left it. I set my pack on the floor and sat for a moment on the couch just resting, laughing at the fact that I woke up in Coventry in the mud earlier in the day. I needed a shower. I wanted to shit in a toilet that flushed. I stepped into the bathroom and slapped on the light and stood bewildered by what I saw. The bathroom had been gutted. The bathtub was gone. The toilet gone. The sink gone. The wall tiling, the floor tiles, all of it gone. The bathroom was just an empty closet. I didnt even have it in me to laugh. I just walked back into the living room and sat my muddy ass down on the couch.

The next day I called my roommate who more often than not sleept at his girlfriends apartment and he said that the landlord had said they would be renovating the bathrooms. Soon after that discussion I noticed that a few items were missing from my bedroom including my video camera, my towels, and my piggy bank. With only two weeks left in the apartment, only two weeks left in Bed-Stuy, they finally got me. I tried to laugh it off, but really I just needed to get out of the house. I went to a friendly, familiar, nearby coffee shop where I sat outside drinking a latte, smoking cigarettes, and reading The New York Times: There are conflicting reports on whether Iraqi police or Shiite militiamen are in control of the Imam Ali Shrine in the city of Najaf. Sadrs Mahdi Army followers have been holed up in and around the Iman Ali mosque since fighting broke out anew in Najaf on August 5th.


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The standoff has been violent and deadly as the militiamen attack the encroaching Marines and then retreat through the cemetery to the Shrine. Najafs Wadi Al Salam cemetery is one of the largest in the Muslim world. It is about 3.1 miles long and 1.86 miles wide. August has is proving to be the deadliest month in the war thus far. Yo, dude! someone said. I looked up and saw a hippie standing there in front of his muddy, crusty truck with Vermont license plates. Were you at Coventry? he asked. Yeah, I said. Pretty bittersweet, huh?



The place and the time that we knew that things could go wrong Keep it clean I didnt mean to be mean Why does it always seem That Ive never won Keep it clean and no ones ever won. The empty promise makers said Here it comes Make a point to make no sense Here it comes Speak about the future in the past tense Here it comes Dont look down So whatd we do Here it comes Walking around with shit on our shoes Oh, here it comes The place and the time that we knew that things could go wrong - Isaac Brock

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oday I cut off my dreadlocks. I borrowed Bezers video camera, snuck into the bathroom, and cut and cut my dreadlocks off. The first one I cut felt fine, the second one a little worse, and the third actually hurt. As I cut I thought very little about anything. I just cut one at a time, watching my head take shape in the mirror. I let the locks fall to the floor. Then in the shower, shampooing and conditioning and shampooing and conditioning the remaining rooted knots I thought of how I would respond to people shocked by or curious about my haircut. Most people will believe I needed a change, but the truth of the matter is that the change already happened and to cut is merely actualizing that change in a physical capacity. Its been four years since I cut my hair. Four years since Ive combed my hair.



And now its gone. Most anthropologists agree that dreadlocks originated in Africa but there is little to no evidence proving this. Historically, dreadlocks can be traced back as early as 2,500 BC with the followers of the dreadlocked Vedic deity Shiva. But dreadlocks are a universal phenomenon thatput in simplest terms and without regard of religious beliefssignifies a disregard for physical appearances and vanity. Be it the Nazarite of the West or the Yogis, Gyanis, or Tapasvis of the East, dreadlocks were adorned throughout the early world. Both Eastern and Western traditions believe that spiritual energies exit the body through the top of the head and if the hair is knotted then that energy remains with the body, keeping the person stronger and healthier. Biblical Sampson lost his unsurpassed strength when Delilah cut his seven locks of hair. And I considered that when I cut my dreadlocks. Would I lose my strength, my powers, be those mental or otherwise. Would it be a mistake later regretted? I still dont know. I remember when my old Classon roommate David cut his dreadlocks. I didnt judge him for it. Would I be judged for cutting my hair? I didnt care. When I called to tell my father later in the evening, he asked me if it felt right and I said yes. Then he told me that thirty-five years ago today he joined the Navy, which got him away from Buffalo and paid for his education. Also, in the Navy, he met my mother. You think youll lose your weirdo-factor? my dad asked me on the phone. Maybe, I said. Do you think people will stop asking you for pot? he asked. Maybe, I said. I certainly wont get a shake from the Rastas on the corner anymore. My father agreed. It really wasnt until the early 1900s that dreadlocks became a Rastafarian tradition. Before then, dreadlocks were rarely seen outside of India. But with the socio-religious movement started by Marcus Garvey in Harlem at the turn of the century, many followers in both Harlem and Jamaica grew matted locks of hair, referring to themselves as dreads, to signify their dread, fear, or respect for God.


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Soon this religious group turned their attention to the Ethiopian Emperor Ras Tafari Haile Selassie, and consequently became known as Rastafarians. Originally, dreadlocks were a spiritual status, then a religious symbol of dedication, then a potent social signifier, and nowadays dreadlocks have come to mean all of that as well as a more contemporary display of non-violence, or non-conformity, or solidarity, or, at its worst, fashion. I remember one night walking through Manhattan when a loudmouthed dread approached me and said I was right and true and beauty through and through. All those other white dreads, he said. All those other white dreads with no beards are just fake, just for fashion. But not you dread. You are true. Jah bless. Last summer Sam secretly sent in an application for me to be on the hit reality television show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. This was just before Roadtrip Nation and one day during a lecture on campus I got a phone call from an unknown 212 number so I snuck out to answer it hoping it might be Al Sharpton returning my calls. Hi this is Caitlin from Queer Eye, the girl said. I thought itd be fun and I had nothing to lose so I went into the city for what would be my videotaped interview audition for the show. The interviewer asked almost exclusively about my physical appearance, my beard, and especially my dreadlocks. Do you have your dreadlocks for religious reasons? she asked. No, I replied. Would you be opposed to cutting them? she asked. I suppose Ill cut them at some point, I said. And I remember one night after Yoga class my instructor pulled me aside. Do you have your dreadlocks for spiritual reasons? she asked. I said I didnt consider myself a very spiritual person. Then why do you wear dreadlocks? she asked. Because, I said. Because I know it to be right. And thats the same reason why I cut them. Some say that the highest priests of India wear dreadlocks as a physical manifestation of their patience. They grow their locks while waiting for whatever it is that will cause them to cut. And when they do cut their dreadlocks, it is considered a very spiritual, extremely personal action never to be inquired about.



The great French playwright and novelist Jean Genet called Charles Bukowski the best poet in America. Many argue that Bukowski is among Americas best-known writers and certainly the most imitated within freshman college writing studios. Born in Andernach, Germany in 1920 to an American soldier and a German mother, Bukowski came with his family to the United States, specifically Los Angeles, when he was three years old. After a brief stint of college Bukowski left school and moved to New York to become a writer but after no published success he gave up writing. Then ten years of menial labor and intensive drinking brought him to the age of thirty-five at which we began writing poetry. Before his death at the age of seventy-three, Bukowski published as many as fifty books of prose and poetry. Black Sparrow Press, his now defunct publishing house, has this to say of his work: Charles Bukowskis writing often featured a depraved metropolitan environment, downtrodden members of American society, direct language, violence, and sexual imagery, and many of his works center around a roughly autobiographical figure named Henry Chinaski. My friends often tease me by calling me Bukowski. Or Chinaski. I admire the mans writing. Theres something raw and consequently honest about it. And thats unique. As with many of my earlier influences I wrote like Bukowski of subjects Bukowski wrote about and lived a lifestyle that involved drinking heavily every night and a perhaps resultantly tumultuous love life. And I laughed about my comparison to the writer I admired. What follows here is first a short piece of fiction and then a longer piece of non-fiction, an essay, a comparison, a treatise, a love story, an interpretation, and most of all, an homage.


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he day can be unbearably long when you wake up before two pm. I woke up at nine am this morning. Its 3:39 pm now. I need to take a shower. I didnt come home last night. This girl I fuck when Im drunk had an apartment warming party. I went but she only had beer so I borrowed her rented Ryder truck and used her ATM card to get some cash and buy a bottle of vodka. Her pin number is 7739. Then, because I never drive, I took that yellow monster for a spin around the block. I turned the wrong way down one-way streets because I was bigger than they were. Honking and screaming: Youre going down, mother fucker! One long honk and their headlights swerved towards the curb. When I was done with that, I took a few pulls off the vodka and smoked one of the cigarettes in a pack forgotten on the passenger seat. When I came back, the girl I fuck when Im drunk ripped the vodka out of my hand and yelped at me to tell her what took so long. I went for a drive. And why the fuck is the bottle open? Thats how they sold it to me. Bullshit, you stink of booze. I wished she would just shut up so I walked away and joined the party in the backyard. Safety in numbers. They were all drinking beers and eating hamburgers. I screamed! Dont worry, we saved you one! Damn right you did. And everyone laughed when I dropped my burger on the ground. And everyone cringed when I ate it anyway. Thanks for going to get the booze, said the girl I fuck when Im drunk. She held a drink in each hand so I took one and gulped down half of it. Slow down, killer. I took a bite of my hamburger and chewed for a long time. Dont be a dick, said the girl I fuck when Im drunk.


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Im not sure when I first saw Delida Virgadamo. It was about six months ago and I had just returned from traveling all summer and was trying to make it in New York after college. I was terrified. I drank more than ever. I drank a pint of rum every night while struggling to write. A few weeks into our relationship, as Delida cooked us dinner, I brought up what I suddenly remembered as the first time we met, probably last spring. It was at a gallery opening. Delida turned and told me I was wrong. I hope you remember the last time you see me, she said. I quickly kissed her to make sure the evening didnt sour. Her mouth was rigid and sad. Get a plate, she said. Apparently, as Delida remembered it, we first met at a reading I did in the Lower East Side. It was at The Parkside Lounge. Her boyfriend introduced us. And I read poetry about Saddam Hussein. The night Delida cooked us dinner was the first time that I really felt like my friends were right to tease me. You remind me of a character in a Bukowski book, I told her. Ive never read any. I ducked into the bedroom, dug out Women from my shelf and flipped through it while she dished up the chicken and sauce. She had long brown hair, quite long, a prominent noise, and one eye didnt quite match the other. But she projected vitalityyou knew that she was there. I could feel vibrations running between us. Some of the vibrations were confused and were not good but they were there. - Charles Bukowski, Women (p 8)

Months after the gallery show and even longer after The Parkside reading, I saw Delida Virgadamo again and that third encounter was enough to



sell me what some people call a demon. And some people call it love. And some call it a dog from hell. I was riding my bike to the park in Brooklyn on a warm day in late August, cruising past a familiar coffee shop, and I saw my friend Jenny sitting outside smoking a cigarette so I stopped to chat. She was sitting with Delida and we reintroduced ourselves. Delida was beautiful, built like a real woman. And she was thrilled to see me. Soon Jenny left and Delida and I talked until dark when I took her to The Prattler office where we smoked a joint. I was going to a party with my ex-girlfriend that night and Delida had separate plans. On our way out I kissed her quick, and we held hands as we walked. That afternoon outside the coffee shop everything about Delidaher speeches, her ideas, her lips and hair, that sensual glare, her history, the stories she told me, everything said this is quite an amazing woman, someone who could certainly send me under the bridge or better. The connection between us seemed cosmic. But I was hesitant. Skeptical. Had she been anyone else, I would have fucked her that afternoon and called her later in the week. But there was something about her. She projected vitality and presence but not grace or conscience. She seemed wrong. And my intuition often protects me. When I listen to it. Lydia has a grip on me. I cant explain it. Shes a flirt. Shes impulsive. Shell leave you. Maybe thats some of the attraction. You want a whore. Youre afraid of love. You might be right. - Charles Bukowski, Women (p 64)

I drink. Bukowski drank. I play the ponies. Bukowski played the ponies. I have sex with loose, promiscuous women. So did Bukowski. I write of my life. He wrote of his life. The similarities are quite plain and mundane when listed and I never took to defending against my friends teasing comparisons nor did I exalt in them. It was always just a joke. A bad joke, but in good taste. And yet, after that third meeting with Delida Virgadamo, the joke became a bizarre reality. Bukowskis novel Women begins centered around the relationship between Henry Chinaski and Lydia Vance. The second paragraph:


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Im not sure when I first saw Lydia Vance. It was about 6 years ago and I had just quit a twelve year job as a postal clerk and was trying to be a writer. I was terrified and drank more than ever. I was attempting my first novel. Two days later I was out drinking with Delida and a few mutual friends. Everyone was drunk and Delida was handing out speed to anyone who wanted it. She danced and yelped and laughed at herself with more energy than any woman Id ever seen. She seemed possessed. Wild and beautiful. Everyone in the bar wanted to fuck her. I wanted to go home. And then I did. That night she went home with one of my friends, which I assumed she would. The next morning I sat on the street corner with a collection of my material wealth: books, videos, clothes, small pieces of furniture I was moving out at the end of the month and needed all the money I could get. Around noon I saw Delida across the street with two small children. She approached me carrying two cups of coffee and handed one to me. She didnt know I knew so I told her: Have fun last night? She apologized, said she was drunk, said they didnt have sex, he couldnt get it up. She said she sabotaged things because she was afraid of how much she liked me. I said, Dont apologize to me. We dont owe each other anything. She said, But I want to see what happens with us. I said, Bullshit. Let me make it up to you, she said. She wanted to take me out. I have to stay here and sell my things. How much money have you made? About a hundred. How much more do you need? Maybe another hundred. She dug in her purse for a moment. The children stared at me. One had snot running out his nose and down his upper lip into his mouth. Delida handed me a hundred dollar bill. Whats this for? Because you need it.



I made no argument and asked no further questions. Id let this woman buy me off. Soon after I pocketed the bill she left with the children saying shed call me later. When she did, I didnt answer. Seven or eight days passed and I was packing and moving, had borrowed my ex-girlfriends car. I dont care how many friends a man has, on moving day, each man is alone. So when Delida called, I accepted her offer to help. In my empty bedroom, I smoked her cigarettes as she cried to me about how sorry she was for ruining everything by going home with him, and how she wanted to make it up to me and even thought she loved me. She had read all The Prattlers throughout the last few years and, as most people who read them, she thought she knew what kind of man I was. I told her she didnt know shit and to go fuck herself and carry this box out to the car. She did everything I told her to do. That week I moved into a tiny attic room in a filthy house where four of my friends lived. Also, as the Gods would have it, my new room used to be Anthonys room. Anthony used to be Delidas boyfriend, the boyfriend who supposedly introduced us at The Parkside. After settling down as much as one can settle in a tiny attic room, I began seeing Delida more and more often. In the course of a week she seduced me. Her persistence was deafening and to clinch the deal she took me to a bar, got me drunk, took me to her house, we drank more, we smoked some pot, and fucked. In the morning I felt renewed. I showered while she cooked breakfast. I ate well that morning. And to eat with a seductress, so pleased with her success, is to eat among servants. Servants perhaps plotting against you. Maybe even poisoning your food. I always knew Delida to be tricky and seductive and manipulative, even more than most women. But Im a sucker for the crazies. When choosing between boredom and insanity, its no choice at all. One night I took Delida to a party in a building where I knew quite a few people. The apartment was filled with friends of mine all of whom looked at Delida skeptically. They knew me as someone who would sometimes leave a party with a girl but never come to a party with one. I drank bottles of booze that night and Jessica, my ex-girlfriend, did too. She acted a fool, continually bringing up our relationship to others in front of Delida. Mike, Jessica said, remember when Andy and I fucked in your bed at your new apartment before you did?


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Delida didnt stay for much of that and trotted off with some friends to a nearby bar. I soon left to follow but in the stairwell of the apartment building Jessica caught up with me and I was finally drunk enough for the fight shed been trying to pick all night. Jessica and I screamed and yelled at each other like we had so many nights during the tail of our relationship. It reminded me of old times. She screamed at me for being callous. And cruel. She screamed at me for ignoring her and kissing that girl in front of her. She screamed and screamed and then she screamed at me for being such a heartless asshole to bring that bitch to a party with her friends. Theyre my friends too, I said. I would never be so rude! Sure you would. Youre an asshole, you know that? Yeah. YOU BRING THIS BITCH OUT AND FLAUNT HER ABOUT IN FRONT OF ME WHEN ONLY A FEW WEEKS AGO YOU FUCKED ME! But you know its over between us. THEN DONT FUCK ME! Im not. I cant believe you. I cant believe YOU. Why cant you respect what we had? I KILLED OUR UNBORN CHILD! She was crying now. Jesus, I said. Dont bring that up, this isnt right. Youre right! A door in the building opened and I could hear people heading downstairs. Flanked by two friends, Delida moved quickly down the stairs past Jessica, past me, and down the block. They had been in Sarahs apartment, hadnt yet left for the bar, and undoubtedly heard our screaming. Just leave me alone, I said. I DONT EVER WANT TO TALK TO YOU AGAIN! Good, I said. Its mutual. I walked around the corner to the bar and bought a drink. I didnt see Delida anywhere and then I bought another drink. I found Sarah, she said Delida was really angry with me. Then I saw Delida come out of the



bathroom. At first she wouldnt look at me. After a few drinks we left together. During the week that followed, Delida slept at my place every night. We fucked in her ex-boyfriends room in a house she knew better than I did. She was friends with all my friends who lived there including Lucy, a petite slow-thinking Cambodian girl. In fact, soon after Delida broke up with Anthony and he moved back to California, Lucy and Delida consummated a short-lived affair. Of the nine people who lived in the house, Delida had slept with three of them. And as the nights went by, I discovered she had slept with many men and women from the neighborhood, some friends of mine, some strangers, some previous roommates of hers. Oh shut up, shed say to me. Youre the biggest whore I know.

Lydia and I were always fighting. She was a flirt and it irritated me. When we ate out I was sure she was eyeballing some man across the room. When my male friends came by to visit and Lydia was there I could hear her conversation become intimate and sexual. She always sat very close to my friends, positioning herself as near them as possible. It was my drinking that irritated Lydia. She loved sex and my drinking got in the way of our lovemaking. - Charles Bukowski, Women (p 64)

Delida and I drank every night until dawn. And we fucked. We drank and we fucked and often enough we fought. On more than one occasion wed fight, Id pass out, and sometime in the early morning Id wake up with her naked and mounting me. It wasnt long until we fell into a routine, a pattern that involved pretending to look for jobs during the day, occasionally working a couple of weeks at a job, but mostly just drinking through the afternoon into night on the roof top terrace of that house. That house was terrible. 210 Washington. I shared a shower with nine people. There was no living room and my bedroom was genuinely haunted. Nothing I hung on the walls stayed there. Books flew off my bookshelf. Late at night the door would open and slam shut sometimes


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as many as four times in a row. I named the spirit Spooky. Spooky, Id say drinking in bed, just calm down. My friends Mike, Adam, and Tom lived there at 210. And Sarah too, although before I moved in I only knew Sarah as a pot dealer. The landlords, an unhygienic Egyptian named Paul and his wide-assed wife Bernie, lived in the front first floor of the house with their four obscenely fat retarded children and two or three elderly women who sat on the front stoop without a care in the world or a thought in their heads. From across the street 210 looked abandoned. Trash covered the front lawn, a hill upon which the house was set back from the street. You could smell the house from the corner and sometimes during those first warm weeks, the last few of summer, a foul stench would blow from the yard into my bedroom. The house smelled like body odor. And Bernie, who spoke like a chain-smoking witch, would waddle up the stairs to the attic and see me there on the toilet. Im sorry, Im sorry, shed say. I was just wondering if you could give me cash for the rent this month. Sure, Id say wiping the shit out my ass. In the bathroom, the wall opposite the toilet was tiled mirror. Some mornings, hung over, not knowing if I needed to shit or puke, Id enter the bathroom, stinking hot like a sauna, and sit staring at myself surrounded by flies. Paul, Bernies husband, once approached me as I was leaving for the day. Out on the long, steep stoop he stood there sweaty and cross-eyed, asking me if, You could not give the money to my wife. Give the money to me. If you give my wife the money it goes straight to the cakes and the candies. And that was true. Almost weekly Bernie offered me cupcakes or pizza or donuts or twinkies. One late night, while Delida was out, Mike and I were getting drunk in his room and through the air vents we listened to Bernie scream and reprimand her children. Her complaints were incoherent but the childrens reply, in unison, was loud and clear: We cant, they cried. Were too fat! As the summer cooled, Delida and I spent more and more time together. We drank, made movies with the camcorder, told jokes, I took her to places shed never been: Mexican restaurants, pizza parlors, the Court Street OTB We made fun during the day and drinking, fucked during the night. Then, as the tail end of the hurricanes from Florida reached Brooklyn, the rain collapsed Mikes ceiling and Delida was


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quick to offer him her apartment as she was staying every night with me anyway. Suddenly, I woke up and I was living with the woman. Her blue jeans fit tighter than ever. She flung her long brown hair from side to side. She was insane; she was miraculous. For the first time I considered the possibility of actually making love to her. She began reciting poetry. Her own. It was very bad. Charles Bukowski, Women (p 9) Delida always had a way of phrasing things that made sense of the situation. And she rearranged my bedroom. As there was no common room, no living room in 210, and the ceilings in my bedroom were so low as to make you hunch over, Delida and I spent our nights on the rooftop talking and touching and looking at the sky. Theres only one star in New York, she said. Yeah, I said, drinking. And its usually an airplane. We read each other our poetry, talked politics, discussed our pasts, enjoyed our sex, and drank and drank and drank, waking up every afternoon hung over. At some point she started keeping an empty Carlo Rossi jug full of water next to the bed. One morning we woke up and I grabbed at her while pushing my hard-on against her thigh. Happy Brooklyn, Delida said. We began to kiss. I could hear Sarah talking to someone in the kitchen. Just dont go in there, okay? Sarah said. Why not? Delida pulled away, her eyes wide. I recognized the voice too. It was Anthony. She dressed and left. I stayed in bed. Delida spent the next few days with him at her apartment and after he went back to California, she came back to me. Fuck off, I said. I had to deal with that. I didnt know he was coming. Its not fair that you can let him sabotage our relationship. It was right around then, when I still didnt have a job and found myself living with a crazy, alcoholic woman, also unemployed, that I realized I had a decision to make. I could kick her out and cut it off real



sharp or I could fight to keep my faith in humanity through fucking and living and drinking with this mad genius. Never had I been so beaten up over a woman. At moments I convinced myself she was an alien, the genuine article posing as a human. Certainly there were nights when she didnt come home but someone always corroborated her story and friends said they gave her the couch. I was drinking enough to only care that much. She made me crazy with some of the things she said. Her thoughts connected to previous thoughts in ways that made sense only in the crazy part of your mind, that part best kept submerged in alcohol. She was wild. She had a grip on me. And I should have kicked her to the curb the first time I threatened to. But I didnt. I guess I stayed with her because I loved her. Or maybe just because she kept me drinking and kept me fucking and that was better than living or working. After I graduated and then traveled and moved into 210, Delida functioned as a constant amidst a world of chaos and debauchery. Even when I was eighteen and first going to bars in New York I didnt drink as much as I drank this last August and September. And when I was eighteen I blacked out almost every night. And I had a lot of sex then, most of which I dont remember. One afternoon walking down the street Delida and I passed a few girls I knew, some Id been with and some I hadnt. Jesus, I hate the way these girls look at me, she said. How do they look at you? Shut up, you know. I dont. We passed the laundromat and a girl inside waved at me. You fuck her? Yeah. Shes cute. Delida was bisexual and probably more gay than straight. She was from Connecticut, and one time I went home with her and we went drinking with friends of hers. One such girlfriend looked at me and asked, Youre actually dating this dyke? She certainly liked girls and girls liked her. She kissed like a lesbian too. But the idea of threesomes disgusted her. Or so she claimed. And she constantly threatened to kill me if I fucked another girl. If you come home smelling like pussy, shed say, Ill kill you. I believed her. She was crazy. Passionate, beautiful, fucked-up,


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alcoholic. I loved her. Another afternoon, feeling more pressure than usual, Delida asked me to drive us somewhere so I took us to a park in DUMBO under the Manhattan Bridge and we sat on a bench in the sun and talked about the future. She wanted to move in together. I didnt object to the idea. We were already living together. I love you, you know? she said, kissing my neck in the sunshine. I watched the East River glisten and it looked clean, although I knew better than to think it was. You dont like liking me, she said. Youre right. I know, she said. Youve very transparent. I make no effort to pretend. Thats why I love you. Maybe. At our best Delida and I were a devilish pair that worried most people who knew us. At our worst, more of the same. Out at the bars, girls would approach me and Id give them a good show and later find Delida between two men in a back booth letting them both talk her up and down. Back at the house, wed tell each other secrets and later use them against one another. Wed finish bottles of booze and blame the other. I felt crazier than ever. New York was condensing, compacting, buckling down for the Republican National Convention and almost everyday smoking pot on the roof, we could see four or five helicopters stuck in the sky. I wasnt really writing anymore. The booze and the woman and the upcoming convention sucked it out of me. My friends could see it in me. Id been there before but this time was deeper., straight to the core. I had vicious nightmares every night, nightmares in which I was forced to kill innocent children. I had dreams, visions of the apocalypse and all manner of worldly, seemingly inevitable doom. A depression sets in when you rightfully choose reason over passion in instances of protests and women because even though youre safe and sound youre guilty for not believing in yourself, guilty not for action but lack thereof. Purgatory is an ugly place with darker corners than the smallest furnace of hell. At least in hell you know where you are. Call it an existential crisis, call it heartache, call it work-related



depression, call it financial instability, call it high blood pressure, call it an ashtray full of cigarettes, call it Florida where New Yorkers move to after their parole. A.P. Smith, Journal entry, 09.03.04 Adam and I had planned to wake up early and go to the demonstration and thats exactly what we did excluding the part about going to the demonstration. Instead, Adam, Mike, Delida, and I sat on our roof and smoked pot, making jokes about how we should just have a toot instead of going to the protest. Sure, we justified our laziness and our justifications may have been justified but in reality the four of us were so defeated already no one wanted to fight. Having heard from friends who were arrested on Friday during the Critical Mass ride and spent the night in custody, none of us wanted to get arrested for that, for what, for nothing. Later that afternoon, the four of us did indeed take the train to Madison Square Garden. The streets were empty, littered with trash, papers, confetti, signboards, it looked like New Years Day gone wrong. Each street corner garnered about forty police officers all looking for a suspect or less, just a reason to make an arrest. And they all stared at me. We walked down the sidewalks with the last few remaining demonstrators all dolled up for what they thought would be a movement, a reckoning, some sort of catalyst for an upward struggle. Platoons of street cleaners loud and unscrupulous rolled down Sixth Avenue three or four abreast. The humid vestige of previous action hung in the air. We wandered with no destination, not even a goal. The protest was drawing to a close and no one had accomplished anything. I expected nothing less. In my mind, protest died years ago. I felt no guilt for not participating in the march. We walked downtown and ran into an old friend, a writer, a Pratt dropout. He looked well, like he was enjoying the scene, what looked to me like the remnants of a massacre. All of us made it to Union Square where the demonstrators were still preaching and dancing in all told glory. The spectacle saddened me. Delida and I sat on the steps and sighed at each other, feeling no warmth from the hoard. These people were enjoying themselves. What a demented display. Those costumed or holding puppets ran around in circles handing out anti-Bush stickers.


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Others simply stood near tables of silk-screened T-shirts, selling them to teenagers for ten dollars each. The purpose of it all was lost in the symptom of the very disease everyone thought they were fighting. That night I got very drunk.




t harvest time, when the ratoons have grown into thick stalks and the stems of the cane are spongyfull of moist, sweet sapthe last thing a sugar cane farmer wants is rain. Rain would only dilute the sugar content in the cane. At harvest time, after the fourteen-foot stalks are cut down, the sugar cane is quickly shipped to the mill where its chopped and passed through a series of rollers and grinders that squeeze out the juice. The juice, known as Vejou, is green in color and very acidic. The Vejou is heated and clarified and dried before being cool-boiled in a vacuum to extract the sugar crystals. The remaining muddy syrup is boiled until it thickens and coagulates into black treacle, which is then boiled again to yield blackstrap molasses, the cancerous-looking tar that when fermented and distilled makes rum. Fermentation, a relatively simple procedure, means adding sugar water and yeast to the molasses and letting it stew for a day or two. The


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yeast eats all the sugar and shits it out as alcohol and carbon dioxide. In some cases, the dunder left in the bottom of the still, or the limings, the scum that grows on the surface of the molasses, can be added to the rum for a more pungent flavor. Distillation is the process that separates the water from the alcohol. The fermented dead wash is fed into a circular copper kettle and heated, causing the alcohol to evaporate. This alcoholic vapor is collected and piped into a separate cooler where its condensed. When distilled, all rum is white or clear. The rum turns goldenbrown during the aging process when its held in oak wood barrels with charred staves. Most rum is further colored with caramel, but if white rum is desired, the color can be removed through a series of charcoal filters before bottling. While the distiller may seem to have an effortless job, there is one important pitfall to be avoided. The first and last of the vapor that evaporates off the dead wash contains numerous toxic oils and poisons. The beginning and the end of that vapor is extremely lethal. The distillers job is to watch the heads and tails of the vapor and collect only the heart.




y fellow citizens, events in Iraq have not reached the final days of decision. For more than a decade, the United States and other nations have pursued patient and honorable efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime without war. That regime pledged to reveal and destroy all its weapons of mass destruction as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Since then, the world has engaged in twelve years of diplomacy. We have passed more than a dozen resolutions in the United Nations Security Council. We have sent hundreds of weapons inspectors to oversee the disarmament of Iraq. Our good faith has not been returned. The Iraqi regime has used diplomacy as a ploy to gain time and advantage. It has uniformly defied Security Council resolutions demanding full disarmament. Over the years, U.N. weapon inspectors have been threatened by Iraqi officials, electronically bugged, and


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systematically deceived. Peaceful efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime have failed again and againbecause we are not dealing with peaceful men. Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraqs neighbors and against Iraqs people. The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hated of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda. The danger is clear: using chemical, biological, or, one day nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other. The United States and other nations did nothing to deserve or invite this threat. But we will do everything to defeat it. Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety. Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed. The United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security. That duty falls to me, as Commander-in-Chief, by the oath I have sworn, the oath I will keep President George W. Bush




oday is the anniversary of the war in Iraq. Happy Saint Patricks Day. Today is a day of many commemorations. Outside, its snowing. It snowed yesterday too. And tomorrow? I feel like a new person, like Ive finally joined the real world for the first time, and I fear its only because I havent been smoking pot. Im trying to watch what I eat, trying to be a better person, more cordial, a little more mature, someone who would make my parents, my friends, and my country proud. Even if Im not. When I look back at this last year, St. Pats to St. Pats, I get thirsty. I want a beer. I want many beers. But Ill wait, at least for now. Theres nothing wrong with waiting. Anticipation is something to be desired; anticipation is worth waiting for, anticipation is worth living for. Unless you live in Iraq. Or Ireland. In exactly 165 days, Republicans from near and far will gather and convene in this once great city. And Ill be ready, ready for what may come, what will come, and I hope its a turning point, a cresting of a wave


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that first swelled four autumn seasons ago. Yes, its been that long, that detrimental, and that brutal. Savage, even. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would move to Ireland and airmail my absentee ballot. Ive given up. I want out. But I dont mean to instill pessimism upon you, dear reader. No, that is not my intention. Sadly enough, I barely have an intention. This is it, for better for worse, in good times and bad, until death do us part. And things are closer than they appear to be. May the Lord wave his hand over our heads and grace us with the mindset not to tolerate but to battle all that is wrong with ourselves and our land, be them homelands or otherwise. This is it. Drink up.




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I have always felt that a man cannot seek the Presidency and get it simply because he wants it. I think that he can seek the Presidency and obtain it only when the Presidency requires what he may have to offer and I have had the feeling, and it may be a presumptuous feeling, that because of the need for leadership particularly qualified in foreign affairs, because I have known not only the country, but the world as a result of my travels, that now time requires that I re-enter the arena. -Richard Nixon, Republican Presidential Candidate Nominee, Miami, Florida, 1968

TH ROWI NG MYS E LF TO TH E LION S : I N TH E F UTU R E, WELL ALL B E R E P U B LICAN S* * An act of espionage committed in early April, the year of our lord 2004.

spionage is a tricky business and best left to those who are prepared to sacrifice their lives, knowing their government will disavow any and all knowledge of their operation. If this writer, this Democrat was to infiltrate an organizational meeting of volunteers for the Bush campaign, I was going to need a hat to hide my dreadlocks. Republicans, to the best of my knowledge, do not have dreadlocks. After signing up on-line to volunteer for the Bush campaign, I received a notification of a meeting to take place in the Kit Carson Diner located just of Interstate 5 in Chehalis, Washington, ninety miles south of Seattle. My flight was scheduled to arrive in Seattle late Friday night and in order to make the Saturday morning meeting, I was facing a seven AM departure, which left little preparation time and even less time to convince



one of my vehemently Democratic parents to accompany me. Operation Trojan Horse was not a solo mission and neither was this, as I explained to my parents late Friday night. My mother immediately refused to go, which left my father in a tight spot, what Republicans would call a pickle: accompany his son into what could be the most tragic failure of political espionage since Watergate, or allow his son to venture solitarily into the mouth and down the throat of madness, perhaps never to return. So the next morning my father and I drove south to Chehalis and soon came upon the Kit Carson Diner across the street from the Washington State Juvenile Detention Center, all walls and barbed wire. We parked and sat in the lot for a moment just breathing. You sure you want to do this? my father asked. No, I said. But we have to. No, we dont, he said. I tucked what dreadlocks I could into my baseball cap and shoved the rest down the back of my shirt. The morning sun sat just above the horizon and in the dirty windshield I could see our reflection. It was our last exit, the last moment before the point of no return. I opened the car door and stepped out and took what I knew then could be my last breath of sweet, fresh air. My father followed as I walked across the parking lot. We entered the Kit Carson Diner. The room was full of old, white couples eating pancakes and drinking decaffeinated coffee. Almost every table was taken but there was little dialogue, hardly any movement, no ambient noise whatsoever. It was frightening. Table for two? the hostess asked. Were here for the Bush-Cheney volunteer meeting, I told her. The hostess froze. She slowly placed the menus back in their cubby. In the back, she said. And she watched us, waiting for us to move. We walked through the restaurant and everyone stared, mouths agape, holding spoons overflowing with warm, salted grits or gray, lumpy oatmeal. These people seemed dead and looked at us as if we had no right being here as we were still alive and well. Through the main dinning room, past the bathrooms, around the kitchen, down the hall, we walked until reaching the last private party room in the bowels of the Kit Carson. The meeting seemed to have just started so we sat down quickly at the end of a long banquet table around which sat a dozen white, smooth-


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faced men and women wearing their best Sunday clothes or denim Bush 04 button-ups

Now I must interject here, and stop this tale for just a moment. What follows is only what I can remember. This story is recounted as accurately as possible without the aid of my notes and transcriptions taken during this meeting for reasons soon to be revealed. Call this mission a failure if you must. For me, it is a success if only because we made it out alive.

The head Republican, a bald man with skinny arms was talking when we took our seats and someone slid a packet of papers down the table to my father and me. The stack of papers, stapled at an angle in the top left corner, was the eight-part Washington Bush-Cheney 04, Inc. Lewis County Election Plan. Flipping through it I read phrases like Talking Points and Long-Term Outlook and Precinct Chair Duties and StateOf-The-Art Internet Effort. After the bald Republican wrapped up his little welcome speech, he thought it best if we went around the table and introduced ourselves so thats what we did. The finest men and women of Chehalis, Washington were in the Kit Carson that morning. We had the brother of the current Lewis County sheriff, the leader of three local church-affiliated helpinghands programs, a librarian, a firefighter, a Korean War P.O.W. survivor, a shy housewife with her silent teenage daughter, a construction worker, an elementary school teacher, two senior citizens, my father, and me. My father and I said very little and the meeting progressed wonderfully, as mediated by Mr. Bald Skinny Arms. So is there a place where we can get signs to put in our yards? the elementary teacher asked. Actually, replied the mediator. Were not going to use lawn signs because that will just make the Democrats put signs in their lawns, so no. Were not going that route. Were keeping it very tight, said the firefighter. Were only contacting known Republicans. We dont want to inspire any retaliation from the Democrats. If you want, said the brother of the sheriff. I can get access to a list of registered voters from the precinct house so we can call only Republicans and forget about those Democrats.



You have access to these lists of registered voters? asked the P.O.W. I sure do, he answered. Thats wonderful, he said. But isnt that illegal? I asked. The room fell silent and everyone looked at me. Then they turned their attention to The Bald Republican to see how hed handle it. Moving on, he said. There are many tactics and strategies we can use to ensure President Bushs victory. I was sweating and I could feel the volunteers growing suspicious of this hairy youngster and his awkwardly silent, equally bearded father. After that I kept my mouth shut. I listened as they delegated duties around the table. Some would make phone calls, others would canvas through neighborhoods, others would telephone call-in talk-radio shows, the P.O.W. promised to write letters to newspaper editors, and when it came to me I said Id register ten voters. Republican voters, right? the church lady asked. Of course, I replied. Good, the P.O.W. said. His tone sent my neck hair on end. Someone asked a question and then everyone started talking amongst themselves. I wrote a few lines in my notebook, careful to write their dialogue word for word. Im going to the bathroom, whispered my father, and then he was gone. I kept writing, not wanting to make eye-contact with the enemy. We dont get a lot of Republicans looking like you look. He was talking to me. I remained silent and pretended to be busy. Excuse me, he said. Yes? I said. Im just wondering what it is that brings you here? asked the sheriffs brother. Bush, I said. Bush? he asked, flippantly Yes. But why are you here? I was silent. I knew there was a correct answer to this question. What he means is what makes you want to volunteer for Bush, said


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the church lady, all smiles and wrinkles. Oh, I said, pretending only now to understand. Well, I used to live in New York and I watched the towers fall and that was such a terrible attack on our country, I just dont think were at a place where we can trust anyone but Bush. Everyone nodded in agreement. And I continued. I think Bush is the only man who can catch Osama Bin Laden. Yes, someone said. So true, said another. And thats why Im here! I said, running with the moment. We need to protect our homeland and kill the terrorists. Protect our homeland! Kill the terrorists! Everyone nodded. Everyone but the head Republican, the bald mediator. He sat with arms crossed watching my performance with a skeptics glare. My father returned from the bathroom so I excused myself. In the bathroom, looking in the mirror I noticed a stray dreadlock fallen from my hat and resting snake-like on my shoulder. I tucked it back in and a grave sense of fear washed over me. It was time to leave. Back in the banquet room, my father was being interrogated by three of the volunteers while the Bald Republican whispered secrets to the Korean War veteran. I sat down next to my father and gave him a look that said, lets get out while we still can. He gave a look of agreement and waited for an escape in his conversation. I went to write in my notebook but wheres my notebook? I had left my notebook on the table when I went to the bathroom and The Bald Republican and the P.O.W. were staring at me. Oh no, I thought. They continued to stare, stared straight into my eyes, deep into my soul, all the way through my being and didnt stop there. They stared until I knew they knew. The gig was up. Should we get going? my father asked me. Yes, I said. You shouldnt be leaving just yet, said the Korean War veteran. I think we have a few more things to talk about. We have some place to be, I said, standing. Well be at the next meeting.



It was nice to meet all of you, my father said. Wait there just a minute, said The Bald Republican. But we didnt wait. I pushed my father towards the door and we power walked down the hallway, around the kitchen, past the bathrooms, through the dinning room and out the door into the parking lot where we jumped in the car and sped away. I was hyperventilating. Wheres your notebook? my father asked. Just drive, I said. Just keep driving.


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ere we are, the evening of September 29th, sitting drinking, waiting, looking for whom weve become, looking for a job, looking for love, or maybe just sex. Theres drugs and alcohol, theres hangovers with warm beer in the morning. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Thats what theyll say tomorrow. But for now, well pretend not to recognize the face of our disillusionment. Delida is sitting outside with Mike and Bezer eating the dinner she just cooked for all of us. Im not hungry. All I want is coffee or beer, but beer doesnt even get me drunk any more, and pot has become like tobacco. So well all move in together because none of us have a job. And Im leaving soon enough anyway. Although I dont even know if I still want to leave. Maybe theres some truth and purity to the idea of the captain going down with the ship. If I abandon the struggle, well, what then? What happens to the soul who strikes out on his own with no one to catch him when he falls? And



besides all that, theres something poetic about remaining here, in this dying Babylon, witnessing the end, the downfall of all that is great and wonderful about Freedom and Art and Brooklyn gentrified. The three of them want to move into this place in Williamsburg. I may or may not have a say in the matter so Ill take the latter just to keep things simple. The first of three Presidential debates happens tomorrow. Rent is due the day after tomorrow and I dont have it. The day after the day after tomorrow my mother arrives with all her forces of reason and logic that Ive recently ignored or violently murdered. This has been a time of blood lust and debauchery and unprotected sex and for what? For what? Were eating our own bones, gnawing straight through to the marrow because its the only thing that keeps our attention away from the more pressing issues like hovering helicopter conspiracies and dangerous liaisons with seventeen year old Norwegian girls. Or the fact that life has indeed begun to imitate art, the art of a dead German-American writer, who, like the whole of us, was also an alcoholic. Even now as I write this Delida and Bezer have returned with more beer. Also, they acquired a dozen oil paintings, portraits mostly, left for trash by one of the painters who recently moved out of this house. And theyre excited, talking about hanging the paintings in the new apartment were all to share. The paintings are quite good and I claim one of the two bar scene paintings. In the center and foreground of the painting, a majority of the composition, is a man in a blue and white striped shirt with his back to you. Just over his left shoulder is a painfully deep sadness, a repressed sadness in the face of the female bartender clutching a bottled corked with a red candle

I dont believe much of anything any more, and thats really depressing. Somewhere along the way I became so jaded or disillusioned that I cant imagine we have any chance at all. And by we I mean the universal we. You. Us. All of us. Lately Ive had this consistent feeling, a doomsday vibe, as if all of this may be in vain and that the end will be upon us soon enough. Sure people throughout all of time have talked about the end of the world but I think that this is it, at least for me. I hope and pray to all things holy that Im wrong but Sometimes to counter act this I brainstorm about Halloween costumes. Maybe Ill be a sailor or a police officer, something simple, traditional.


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Last year I was Osama Bin Laden and everyone loved it. Give me one good reason why I shouldnt punch you in the mouth right now, said some dude in a Yankees jersey outside a party last Halloween. Uh, well, I said, thinking of a reason. Its Halloween? Its been almost a complete year since then. This time last year I just had my gallery opening and had completed almost four weeks worth of solid, dedicated, sleepless work. These last four weeks have included no work, no accomplishment, no self-actualization, just debauchery and unprotected sex. Last night I drank two bottles of red wine and passed out. Ive dreamt this moment before. This moment, writing this now. And as a matter of fact Ive dreamt the future of this moment and Im not going to follow that path. Tonight I will alter the future. In the dream I stop writing, climb in bed with Delida, whisper to see if shes still awake and she responds from that sleep world that isnt quite sleep and we kiss half-heartedly before she rolls over and softly begins to snore. But thats not going to happen. Instead, Im going to keep writing and smoke another cigarette to see where this alternate reality will lead me. Maybe Ill smoke some pot.




onight is game one of the political World Series, debate Numero Uno between Kerry in the Blue corner and Bush in the Red corner. May this night be filled with spectacle and unforeseen catastrophe. Or at least some sort of metaphorical backhand on the part of Kerry. With less than twenty minutes before kick-off, let us pour a drink and smoke if you got them because if there were ever a moment for selfinduced numbness, this is that moment. The full moon is on the wane, Sukkot is in full effect, and the weather outside, gray and hazy, sets a nihilistic tone. I had a vision last night of watching the debates with my friends and witnessing some sort of attack on the President and having the live feed cut to a stunned, stuttering anchorman desperately trying not to mention the fact that our nations leader was just blown to pieces. In the vision, I stand up and say, The revolution has begun. And Mike replies with, The revolution will be televised. Then we all go out and buy AK-


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47s and a bottle of Kalishnikov vodka and take to the hills with enough provisions to last through the new year. Delida and I took the television to the roof with our rum and cokes, the bottles at our feet between us, and settled in for the spectacle. I dont think anything on television has ever made me so excited. I was nervous, worried Kerry would, not for lack of a better word, but blow it. Were talking here about freedom, safety, regret, and war, war, war, and death. Yesterdays death, todays death, tomorrows death. Were here to talk about the war in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan. Two wars in four years.

JIM LEHRER: Good evening from the University of Miami Convocation Center in Coral Gables, Florida. Im Jim Lehrer of The NewsHour on PBS. And I welcome you to the first of the 2004 presidential debates between President George W. Bush, the Republican nominee, and Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee. These debates are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Tonights will last ninety minutes, following detailed rules of engagement worked out by representatives of the candidates. I have agreed to enforce their rules on them. The umbrella topic is foreign policy and homeland security, but the specific subjects were chosen by me, the questions were composed by me, the candidates have not been told what they are, nor has anyone else. For each question there can only be a two-minute response, a 90second rebuttal and, at my discretion, a discussion extension of one minute. A green light will come on when thirty seconds remain in any given answer, yellow at fifteen, red at five seconds, and then flashing red means times up. There is also a backup buzzer system if needed. Candidates may not direct a question to each other. There will be two-minute closing statements, but no opening statements. There is an audience here in the hall, but they will remain absolutely silent for the next ninety minutes, except for now, when they join me in welcoming President Bush and Senator Kerry.



(AP P LAU S E) And from the beginning from that first drink and that first smoke, Kerry grabbed the reigns and, with the calm collectedness of a dentist, he saddled that cowboy. It was like watching a boxing match where the underdog lands punch after punch with little time for his opponent to retaliate. We were winning. For once we were winning and the joy and pride of democrats the country over brought about a universal sense of contentedness. Perhaps we could trust Kerry with the task, and I mean not the Presidency, but merely the act of usurping Bush. The Presidency is another issue altogether. JIM LEHRER: Do you believe you could do a better job than President Bush in preventing another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States? SENATOR JOHN KERRY: Yes, I do. But before I answer further, let me thank you for moderating. I want to thank the University of Miami for hosting us. And I know the president will join me in welcoming all of Florida to this debate. Youve been through the roughest weeks anybody could imagine. Our hearts go out to you. And we admire your pluck and perseverance. I can make American safer than President Bush has made us. And I believe President Bush and I both love our country equally. But we just have a different set of convictions about how you make America safe. I believe America is safest and strongest when we are leading the world and we are leading strong alliances. Ill never give a veto to any country over our security. But I also know how to lead those alliances. This president has left them in shatters across the globe, and were now ninety percent of the casualties in Iraq and ninety percent of the costs. I think thats wrong, and I think we can do better.

During the debates I cringed as Bush smirked and howled like a rabid sports fan when Kerry stuck it to him. Jim Lehrer often times lobbed Kerry these perfect set-up questions and Kerry sent them straight into the gap between center and left field. It was beautiful. And I loved it.


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LEHRER: New question, two minutes, Senator Kerry. Colossal misjudgments. What colossal misjudgments, in your opinion, has President Bush made in these areas? KERRY: Well, where do you want me to begin?

Delida just quietly wept. At first. Then her cries made her go inside and calm herself and then come back out for another drink and another round of tears before retreating again.

BUSH: First of all, of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that.

Of course Delida was upset. Were all upset.

BUSH: If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. Thats not going to happen, so long as Im your president. The next four years we will continue to strengthen our homeland defenses. We will strengthen our intelligence-gathering services. We will reform our military. The military will be an all-volunteer army.

Calming down and spitting a few choice words at the President, Delida called her aunt, a different aunt than the widowed one, because during the debates her family had called her numerous times, she assumed, to complain about the debates. No, that wasnt the case. That night Delidas aunt informed her that the war in Iraq recently took the life of her cousin. She was our age, early twenties. Her hummer was attacked while on patrol, trapping her inside. She burned alive.




(AP P LAU S E) CHARLES GIBSON: Gentlemen, to the business at hand. The first question is for Senator Kerry, and it will come from Cheryl Otis, who is right behind me. CHERYL OTIS: Senator Kerry, after talking with several co-workers and family and friends, I asked the ones who said they were not voting for you, Why? They said that you were too wishy-washy. Do you have a reply for them? KERRY: Yes, I certainly do.


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(LAUG HTE R) KERRY: But let me just first, Cheryl, if you will, I want to thank Charlie for moderating. I want to thank Washington University for hosting us here this evening. Mr. President, its good to be with you again this evening, sir. Cheryl, the president didnt find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so hes really turned his campaign into a weapon of mass deception. And the result is that youve been bombarded with advertisements suggesting that Ive changed a position on this or that or the other

Again, Delida and I are on the roof with our rum and coke but its colder out this time. And the booze tastes different. The debate isnt as entertaining as the last one. By that I mean its a little more serious. Im feeling a little more serious. The election is now closer, sooner, and certainly many more Americans and Iraqis are now dead.

GIBSON: Mr. President, I would follow up, but we have a series of questions on Iraq, and so I will turn to the next questioner. The question is for President Bush, and the questioner is Robin Dahle. DAHLE: Mr. President, yesterday in a statement you admitted that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, but justified the invasion by stating, I quote, He retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction and could have passed this knowledge to our terrorist enemies. Do you sincerely believe this to be a reasonable justification for invasion when this statement applies to so many other countries, including North Korea? BUSH: Each situation is different, Robin. And obviously we hope that diplomacy works before you ever use force. The hardest decision a president makes is ever to use force. After 9/11, we had to look at the world differently. After 9/11, we had to recognize that when we saw a threat, we must take it seriously before it comes to hurt us.



In the old days wed see a threat, and we could deal with it if we felt like it or not. But 9/11 changed it all.

I remember that morning. I was on my way to class, listening to some music on my headphones when this girl, someone I knew to be a crazy jokester, approached me and as I removed my headphones she very casually said, Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center and one just hit the Pentagon, have a nice day! I laughed. Sitting on a bench on campus near my classrooms building I smoked a cigarette and enjoyed the warm, but cooling September air. Then I watched a student run past with a video camera. Then I watched another student climb the fire escape of the tallest building on campus. I reached the rooftop just in time to see the first building fall. It brought me to my knees. Someone asked me if I was alright and I just couldnt understand how they could even be standing there asking that. I felt all that death and it knocked the wind out of me. And I knew that wasnt the worst of it. I knew there would be so many more to die because of this. That week in September, 2001, I had just moved into my apartment on Classon and all we had was a radio and a few empty milk crates. For those first few days, the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, I lied on the hardwood floor of the living room listening to National Public Radio. But on that fourth day, Id had enough and went to The Salvation Army where I bought a red leather reclining chair. I sat in that chair for weeks. I sat in that chair and cried with Sam. I sat in that chair and listened to the radio. I sat in that chair and listened to my neighboring crackheads hustle and fuss. I sat in that chair until the smoke cleared and the dust settled and then I hardly ever sat in it again. When I moved out and gave up all my furniture, I asked Eric if he would take the chair and he agreed. I was happy he took it. I really had no room for it. Or use for that matter. Although, Id love to sit in that chair right about now.

GIBSON: The next question, Senator Kerry, is for you, and it comes from


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Ann Bronsing, who I believe is over in this area. BRONSING: Senator Kerry, we have been fortunate that there have been no further terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11. Why do you think this is? And if elected, what will you do to assure our safety? KERRY: Thank you very much, Ann. Ive asked in my security briefings why that is, and I cant go into all the answers, et cetera, but let me say this to you. This president and his administration have told you and all of us its not a question of when, its a question of -- excuse me -- not a question of if, its a question of when. Weve been told that. The when I cant tell you. Between the World Trade Center bombing in, what was it, 1993 or so, and the next time was five years, seven years. These people wait. Theyll plan. They plot. I agree with the president that we have to go after them and get them wherever they are. I just think I can do that far more effectively, because the most important weapon in doing that is intelligence. Youve got to have the best intelligence in the world. And in order to have the best intelligence in the world to know who the terrorists are and where they are and what theyre plotting, youve got to have the best cooperation youve ever had in the world. Now, to go back to your question, Nikki, were not getting the best cooperation in the world today. Weve got a whole bunch of countries that pay a price for dealing with the United States of America now. Im going to change that. And Im going to put in place a better homeland security effort. Look, ninety-five percent of our containers coming into this country are not inspected today. When you get on an airplane, your bag is Xrayed, but the cargo hold isnt X-rayed. Do you feel safer? This president in the last debate said, Well, that would be a big tax gap if we did that. Ladies and gentlemen, its his tax plan. He chose a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans over getting that equipment out into the homeland as fast as possible. We have bridges and tunnels that arent being secured, chemical plants, nuclear plants that arent secured, hospitals that are overcrowded


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with their emergency rooms. If we had a disaster today, could they handle it? GIBSON: Mr. President? BUSH: I dont think my opponent has got the right view about the world to make us safe; I really dont. First of all, I dont think he can succeed in Iraq. And if Iraq were to fail, itd be a haven for terrorists, and there would be money and the world would be much more dangerous.




ts really quite simple. All I want from this life is to be able to write and make art, to get paid to write and make art. Right now, that seems more necessary than ever. But the trick to that is not to find the right time, but rather the right place. For me, that place seems like Fabrica. Fabrica translates in Italian as workshop. And Fabrica is exactly that: an artistic workshop sponsored and supported by the Benetton Corporation. Located just south of Venice, in a small wine town called Treviso, Fabrica offers no degrees and no certificates. Instead, enrolled artists develop their craft by hands-on work with the latest materials and technology. This can mean working on independent projects and/or participating in work commissioned by outside organizations. I first learned of Fabrica last spring when I met with Kurt Anderson, who, among other titles, is the editor of Benettons Colors magazine. Through the President of Pratt I met with Kurt, a Pratt trustee, to discuss


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my projects (this book, Roadtrip Nation) and possibly get a job at Colors. But I didnt get a job. As an alternative, Kurt suggested I apply to Fabrica. I spent a few weeks perfecting my portfolio and dropped it in the mail just recently. Ive yet to hear back. This is how it works: after your application has been evaluated, you may be invited for a two-week trial period at Fabrica, during which accommodation and lunches will be provided although travel is at your own expense. If you are then accepted, you will be given an award scholarship that lasts one year. Covered by that scholarship is a round-trip ticket from your home country, accommodation, cafeteria lunch Monday through Friday, full insurance coverage, and a monthly allowance. This is my way out. Out of a job. Out of New York. Out of the country.




oday is the day I talk to no one. Today I will wander the city as if I were in a new city or better yet, just passing through. I dont think Im cut out for anything else. This morning on the train into the city I happily watched a stocky not exactly dirty man drink not one but two airplane bottles of vodka. Good for you, I thought. I was glad to be making my escape with him. Certainly Im an escapist. I drink to get drunk every single night. Here I am. Tompkins Square Park at the foot of The Temperance Fountain, the erection of which in 1877 was to address the health conditions of the Lower East Side and to provide water to discourage citizens from drinking alcohol. Another such drinking fountain made by Henry D. Cogswell (1820-1900) resides at 34th and 8th Avenue at the New York City main post office.


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I visited that post office two weeks ago to further prepare for my escape. My passport expired years ago and after three failed renewal attempts at my post office in Brooklyn, I traveled to the city, paid $172, handed over my papers, my photos, and renewed my passport. It was easy. Now I can go anywhere. Three weeks from today the citizens of this country will participate in the most highly anticipated election in our collective memory. And then, the truth will be revealed. If Kerry wins, democracy prevails. If Bush wins, everyones worst thoughts will come true. Weve living through a holocaust masquerading as a peace effort. Ive been sucked dry, my energies depleted. I am just a ghostly shell. Im still standing, a fraction of what I was, and sadly removed I dont recognize myself among friends. I no longer find happiness where I once did and it feels like someone stole my horse, took it away, and sold it to the highest bidder who looks a lot like a beautiful woman I know. Or Lady Liberty. Or the bum who just asked me for a cigarette. I gave him one. Feeling generous.



SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry, youd like to respond? KERRY: Is that a new question or a thirty-second question? SCHIEFFER: Thats a new question for Senatorfor President Bush. KERRY: Which time limit? SCHIEFFER: You have ninety seconds. KERRY: Thank you very much. Well, again, the president didnt answer the question.


OB SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, lets go to a new question. You were asked before the invasion, or after the invasion, of Iraq if youd checked with your dad. And I believe, I dont remember the quote exactly, but I believe you said you had checked with a higher authority. I would like to ask you, what part does your faith play on your policy decisions?
BUSH: First, my faith plays a lota big part in my life. And thats, when I was answering that question, what I was really saying to the person was that I pray a lot. And I do.


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And my faith is a veryits very personal. I pray for strength. I pray for wisdom. I pray for our troops in harms way. I pray for my family. I pray for my little girls. But Im mindful in a free society that people can worship if they want to or not. Youre equally an American if you choose to worship an almighty and if you choose not to. If youre a Christian, Jew or Muslim, youre equally an American. Thats the great thing about America, is the right to worship the way you see fit. Prayer and religion sustain me. I receive calmness in the storms of the presidency. I love the fact that people pray for me and my family all around the country. Somebody asked me one time, Well, how do you know? I said, I just feel it.

Bubba, I feel it too. I feel millions of Christians and Muslims alike praying for you, begging God to help you wise up, step down, or break a leg. Remember when you choked on that pretzel? Remember when daddy was president? Sure you do. We all do. Remember when we had a democracy instead of a theocracy? I do. I remember a lot of things. I remember the 2000 election during which I campaigned for Ralph Nader. Occasionally, on my more pessimistic days, Ill wear my Nader/ LaDuke 2000 T-shirt. I remember that election night smoking pot in my dorm room with a half-dozen friends watching the votes get counted on television. We were all disappointed and then further so when the votes were recounted in Florida and for weeks and months following the election every cover of The New York Times featured some bespectacled fellow holding a ballot against the light to see if it should be counted or not. Some say democracy died long ago. And I agree.

SCHIEFFER: Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice? BUSH: You know, Bob, I dont know. I just dont know



In my opinion, Bob, it doesnt really matter if its a choice or not. By even putting it in that context, it segregates humanity to a degree no less than racism. I hate the fact that theres an African American section in the bookstore just as much as I hate the fact that theres Gay & Lesbian section. I think its ludicrous to define people solely by their sexuality. As ludicrous as it is to define people solely by their ethnicity. To a certain degree, were all destined from birth. If youre born in America, youre American. Dont we have better things to debate than the question of whether or not people choose whom their attracted to? Sex is sex. Love is love. And to find someone to share that with, to find anyone to share that with is one of the last remaining purely blissful moments in this life. I wake up every morning wishing I were attracted to men as well as women. If for any other reason, it seems life would be twice as much fun if everyone I saw were a potential mate, a potential lover and partner. Besides, I think it goes without saying that same sex partners are much more skilled and competent in pleasing you than opposite sex partners are, especially in the category of oral sex. One day I will have a man suck my dick and that day will be a day of ecstasy unequaled. And maybe Ill marry him.

SCHIEFFER: Weve come, gentlemen, to our last question. And it occurred to me as I came to this debate tonight that the three of us share something. All three of us are surrounded by very strong women. Were all married to strong women. Each of us have two daughters that make us very proud. Id like to ask each of you, what is the most important thing youve learned from these strong women? BUSH: To listen to them. (LAUG HTE R) BUSH: To stand up straight and not scowl.


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(LAUG HTE R) BUSH: I love the strong women around me. I cant tell you how much I love my wife and our daughters. I amyou know its really interesting. I tell the people on the campaign trail, when I asked Laura to marry me, she said, Fine, just so long as I never have to give a speech. I said, OK, youve got a deal. Fortunately, she didnt hold me to that deal. And shes out campaigning along with our girls. And she speaks English a lot better than I do. I think people understand what shes saying. But they see a compassionate, strong, great first lady in Laura Bush. I cant tell you how lucky I am. When I met her in the backyard at Joe and Jan ONeills in Midland, Texas, it was the classic backyard barbecue. ONeill said, Come on over. I think youll find somebody who might interest you. So I said all right. Bopped over there. There was only four of us there. And not only did she interest me, I guess you would say it was love at first sight. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry? KERRY: Well, I guess the president and you and I are three examples of lucky people who married up. (LAUG HTE R) KERRY: And some would say maybe me more so than others. (LAUG HTE R) KERRY: But I can take it. (LAUG HTE R)




he summer is over. My travels are over. Phish is broken up. Ive moved out of Classon. Ive graduated from college and that interim, that downtime between student life and real life, thats over too. The Democratic and Republican Conventions have come and gone. As have the debates. And the war rages on. This is it. This is where weve landed. Autumn. And its been made all-too-apparent how we got here. Im twenty-two years old. My country over two-hundred. My parents are still together, something like twenty-five years now. Sam and I rarely speak these days. I cant remember the last time I spoke with Kai. And Im living with my girlfriend. Mike needed a new apartment, Delida needed a new apartment, I wanted out of 210, and Bezer certainly didnt want to stay. So we all moved into a three-bedroom fourth floor walk up on the corner of Dekalb


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and Carlton. Its really their apartment, because the deal is that Ill stay for two months, give or take, until I leave for Italy or elsewhere. Since August Ive now had three apartments. Its mid October. Feeling old. Feeling new. Feeling anxious for whats next, even if its the end.




he road, the rolling asphalt, was something of a comfort to me. The dark landscape surrounding us, the movement, the motion, the steering wheel in my hands, all of it was calming me like a stiff drink at the end of a hard day or a warm bath before climbing into a bed with clean sheets. But there would be no sleeping on this trip. At least not for me. I was driving. Mike sat shotgun as we rolled west through Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The other nine people in the van slept silently despite Pink Floyds Dark Side of the Moon. It mattered not. It was well past three in the morning and we had been driving since midnight. The van was warm with sleep and anticipation. Ohio will come soon enough, I thought, passing exit 69, the exit leading to the town of Progress. I had been here before and I told Mike, I said, Mike, Ive been here before. But this time it wasnt Phish tour and this time we wouldnt stop at


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Progress for the night. No. This time I added a little more weight onto the accelerator and watched the speedometer lean towards eighty. I acknowledged that the lives of ten passengers, nine of them strangers, rested in my hands. And I accepted that responsibility. But it was more than that; there was much more at stake, and only the October skies of Ohio would reveal the true meaning of this adventure. The van veered towards the rumble strip on the shoulder and I pulled her back into the lane. In the rearview mirror I watched a few heads pop up from sleep, look about, then drop down again. Yes, child, rest now. There is much work to be done. Ohio is worth twenty points in the Electoral College. No Republican president has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio and never a president of either party has won without Ohio since 1968. A swing state, a presidency, a battleground, our destination. I turned off the CD and tuned to a radio station. Classic rock. Neil Young. The speedometer read eighty. Which one of them is the psycho serial killer? I asked Mike. He laughed and closed his eyes for sleep. I settled into my seat and gripped the wheel with solemn determination. Soon, we would be in Columbus, fighting the good fight, fighting for whats right, in the company of the one and only Gaby Hoffman.

Earlier that morning I traveled from Brooklyn with Gaby, Hannah, Peter, and Stephanie through the Holland Tunnel into Union, New Jersey to pick up the van we would drive to Ohio. During the drive I was convinced Gaby and I had met before, perhaps at some party or concert, maybe just exchanged glances passing on the street, but her face was striking in that familiar way. Of course, I never got around to determining how or when that morning because Hannah was so adamant about the fact that she knew my face from somewhere. No, I didnt go to Bard. Yes, I did live in the area. No, Ive never been to Kelly Stewarts house. Well, you look really familiar, Hannah said, facing forward again. I get that a lot, I said. Wait! I know where I know you from! she yelped, twisting around to face me. You used to have dreadlocks, right? I did.



I was at Castros one night and you were drunk and loud talking about some court date you had in Virginia. Yeah, that could have been me. No, it was you! she said, laughing to herself. She was cute enough. Skinny. Too skinny. Obviously neurotic, perhaps just a little too smart for her own good. And definitely vegetarian. A bleeding heart. She reminded me of a girlfriend I had in high school, the one I dated when I had all that Barbi Polaroid film. Where do you live? she asked. Ft. Greene, I said. She was excited: Where in Ft. Greene? Dekalb and Carlton. I live at Dekalb and Carlton! Right above the bodega! So we got the van, split up so that some drove back with Gabby and some drove back with me in the van to Williamsburg where we parked the van in front of the Downtown For Democracy office. I was back home by lunchtime. Lying naked and sexed out in bed with Delida I told her about the girls I drove with: Gaby was probably a movie star and Hannah lived across the street. Delida rolled her body towards the window and looked at the brownstones across the street. Oh, I know who you are, she said in a mocking tone of voice. Youre the boy who lives across the street and doesnt have any bedroom curtains. We both laughed for a moment and then Delida began to cry. Dont leave me, she pleaded. I dont want to be alone. But I had to leave and I told her that. I told her I needed to see Ohio. But that was only part of it. A week earlier, Delida and I had a fight and I left the apartment to get drunk promising to met her later but not really meaning it. Around four in the morning my friend Eric and I were stumbling home past the bar where out front I saw Delida making out with someone as two others watched. I called her on her cellphone and ended it right there. That night I slept somewhere else and in the morning she called dozens of times until I finally answered. I said it was over. She said shed been drugged at the bar and raped on her way home and wanted me to please come home and talk to her. I went home and held her as she cried and we both puked and then went to the emergency room for whatever they do for you after youve been raped.


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Standing outside the hospital, I didnt completely believe her story, however I didnt quite have the courage not to believe it either, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt and remained by her side. And I decided to go to Ohio. And thats all Im going to say about that.

We arrived in Columbus at a sunny, warm ten oclock AM. We were staying at a house rented by D for D specifically to accommodate volunteers such as us. Our Ohio liaison was a New Yorker named Chris, the typical good-looking, jaded, save-the-world type of a once-was-treehugger. He seemed nice enough. And after our introductions and room assignments Chris recommended a diner up the road called Jack and Bennys for breakfast so we walked on over. In the diner, a television aired Kerry campaign commercials and a framed, signed photograph of Arnold Schwarzenegger hung on the wall above our table. Mike and I ate breakfast burritos at a table with Hannah and an attractive Spanish girl named Anita while Gaby and the rest ate at another table. So how long have you and Gaby been friends? Mike asked Hannah. Since college, Hannah said. Why? Just wondering if you knew her when she was younger, Mike said. Okay, look, Hannah said. She has a hard time with all that stuff, so dont bring it up. We wont, Mike said. But it is her. Its her, said Hannah. But by then it was obvious. For those of you who arent familiar with the illustrious film career of Gaby Hoffman, shes appeared in such films as Now And Then, Little Women, and the one shes probably most famous for is Uncle Buck. And she looks exactly the same now as she did when she was six. Mike and I would later laugh, fantasizing about returning home and telling of his imaginary sexual rendezvous with the girl from Uncle Buck, to which the listener asks, That teenage juvenile delinquent girl who lied to Buck and really went to a bonfire party? And Mike says, No the six year old. And everyone laughs. But we barely even talked to Gaby that day or any of the days we were



in Ohio. We barely talked to any of the girls who drove with us from New York because they were under the mistaken impression that we came only to get laid. Dont flatter yourselves, ladies. Were here to save the world. But we all know how well that turned out.

After breakfast we returned to the office where Chris gave a little peptalk speech about D for D and the general plan of action for us while we were in town. There would be two teams: one of people to remain in the office and gather information and voter demographic statistics through phone banking, and one team to hit the streets and gather information one-on-one and face-to-face. Mike and I needed to meet the people. We were on team two. And in preparation, before making the plunge, everyone on team two rehearsed their dialogue through role-playing. Partner up, Chris told us. And remember. The goal here is not to persuade the voterunless youre comfortable with thatthe goal is to get their information. A good way to start the dialogue is to ask them if theyre planning on voting in the election, or if theyre registered to vote and then I like to get them to circle a number firsthere on your sheets theyll circle 1 for Kerry, 5 for Bush, and 3 is undecided. And that way you know right away whether you should talk to them. My advice is to only talk with a 3 or below because our main goal here is to make sure they make it to the polls, make sure they know how important Ohio is. I wouldnt bother talking with 5s if I were you. Unless youre comfortable with that. And what should we say? asked Peter, the middle-aged Jeff Bridges doppelganger. I assume all of here are voting for Kerry so tell them what you think, Chris said. And we have fact sheets. Id like a fact sheet, Peter said. My bet was that Peter was the serial killer of our group.

They dropped us off at the High Street entrance to the main campus of Ohio State University. Someone will be back at five to pick you up, Chris said, and drove away.


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Mike, myself, Anita, Peter, and Benjamin stood on the corner holding our clipboards. Everyone waited anxiously for someone to make a move or a voice a decision or anything, something. I waited it out, watching traffic move along High Street. A few OSU students soldiered past. It was Benjamin who spoke first. Benjamin was a classical pianist who looked a lot like Dustin Hoffman. Maybe some of us should stay here and some of should go into campus, Ben suggested. We all nodded and Benjamin took Mike and Peter into campus while Anita and I stood guard at the gates. I got right down to it. Excuse me, are you registered to vote? I asked a passing student. Yeah, she said, without breaking her stride. Thats great, I said, keeping up with her. Do you have a minute to fill out this form about Ive already filled one out, she said, now power-walking. I eased off and watched her walk out of sight. This might be harder than I thought, I thought. Ohio must get a lot of this. I saw another target approaching. A guy this time. Excuse me, are you registered to vote? Yeah, Im already registered , thanks. But Im Yeah, I said Im already registered, thanks, he said, walking away. I stood dejected. Across the street I saw Anita talking to a trio a fraternity brothers. She gesticulated wildly and the boys watched her every move. But then it got better. Almost everyone who stopped to chat with me were already voting for Kerry. They circled 1, wrote down their addresses and telephone numbers, I gave them cards with a phone number to call for their polling stations, and that was that. And yet just around four-thirty pm, I found myself talking with dozens of short-haired men and well-dressed women all of whom circled 5. Can I ask why you plan on voting for Bush? Because Kerry wont protect us. So youre planning on voting for Bush? I believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman. I see you circled 5, why is that? Because I dont care what you say, Ive heard it all before and Im



voting for President Bush. Five oclock came real quick. I was having trouble breathing. The 5s were adamant and unwavering and anything I told them theyd heard before and were definitely voting for Bush. Their conviction was intimidating. After the thirty-minute blitz I felt overpowered, outnumbered, routed, trounced, insignificant, and worst of all useless. All of us felt that way. Back at the office Chris said, The first time out is always hard. Then we all went out to dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. In Ethiopia, its common practice to feed your dinner partners. I explained this to the girls. We know, one said. So we ate pretty much in silence, or the girls talked amongst themselves. I tried to provoke a little chitchatting. Whered you go to school? I asked the girl next to me. Bard, she said. With Hannah and Gaby? I asked. Yeah. How was that? Fine. No complaints? No. Okay, then I said, shoving into my mouth a large piece of purple bread smeared with chunky brown gravy. After dinner we went for coffee and when we returned to the office there were a dozen people there all making phone calls or tallying spreadsheets of phone numbers. On the floor in the corner of the room was a television airing Game 2 of the World Series, Red Sox-Yankees. The Sox were winning. Mike and I lounged around tallying a few sheets of numbers before people started talking about drinking and bars and around the fifth inning Mike and I left for the grocery store where we bought a pair of tall-boy Budweiser cans. Back at the office, we watched the game and drank our beers while all the girls made phone call after phone call after phone call after phone call. When we finished our beers I asked Chris if there were any good bars nearby to watch the game. He said the nearest bar is about two miles up the road towards the house and that Peter and Ben were going back soon


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if we wanted to ride with them. Then he gave us a key to the house. On the drive from the office to the house Mike and I kept a lookout for a sizeable, happening bar and a few came close to winning but none really spoke to us. Were almost at the house, Peter said, driving. Let us out here, I said, spying a bar with people in the windows. Peter slowed down, Mike and I slid the door open and jumped out running. Right away, standing outside that bar, we knew it wasnt right. Everyone inside was dressed much nicer than we were and I couldnt see a television. We looked down the street and up the block but didnt see a single bar. Then an OSU student came walking up the sidewalk and I said, Excuse me, what bar should we go to if were only in town for the night? Im going there right now, he said. Its just around the corner and tonights $2 mug night. Mike and I followed the kid around the corner and low and behold there stood a bar the likes of which can only exist in the Midwest. Two stories tall, outside patio, bright neon lighting, the music blasting either from inside or on speakers outside. The place was alive. Mike and I walked inside straight to the bar that stood underneath four televisions all airing the World Series. Two beers, I said. You want the mugs? asked the bartender. Sure, I said. I looked around. It wasnt crowded but there were people drinking and the clientele all looked the same: men. Men in Polo T-shirts and backwards baseball caps. Four dollars, please, said the bartender. On the bar rested two large, plastic 40 oz mugs of beer. I handed the man a five-dollar bill and Mike and I laughed at our good fortune. Boston won that night. And Mike and I sat at the bar still drinking after the game ended. The place filled up. After the game college students arrived in mobs and Mike and I, the only bearded men, the only ones in T-shirts, obviously outsiders, were seen as foreign objects of curiosity. Confused men just stared. Girls dared one another to talk to us. But we played along nicely,



that whole Youre From New York? game. Because by then we were drunk. The bartender had long ago stopped charging us for our refills and when we finally pushed off he leaned in and said, Go ahead and hang on to your mugs and if you come back next week I wont charge you. Clutching the plastic mugs I said, Thanks. Outside we recited what we remembered of the directions home and started walking through downtown Columbus. We stopped at Taco Bell. Then continued. And we made it to our street with ease but we couldnt remember the address. They all look the same, Mike said. Fuck, I said. Every house was identical. I think its this one, Mike whispered, forcing the key into the lock and not being able to turn it. I think its that one, I whispered. It wasnt. That one? Mike whispered. I think youre right. But the key still didnt work. Knock, I whispered. Mike knocked softly. We waited. The door opened a crack and then the girl opened it wide and turned to walk away before we entered.

The next morning in a coffee shop that sold red, white, and blue donkey and elephant-shaped cookies, we all sit eating at one long banquet table during a moment of sexist silence Benjamin interjects: Why is it that young people today dont appreciate classical music? No one speaks. Benjamin touches the square of toilet paper dotted red on his face. Still no one speaks. After breakfast we stop at the office quickly for supplies and then load up the van and set off to Dayton. Along the freeway most of the trees are naked and skeletal but some still hold leaves bright yellow and screaming out against death. This is


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Ohio in October. Urbana Xenia 68N 68S

We pull into Wright State University. Enemy territory. They warn us this college is entirely Christian and seriously republican. We gear up and set out, feeling if not more prepared at least experienced. You gonna talk to 5s? I ask Mike. Im only gonna talk to black people, he says. Fair enough, I say. Good luck. You too, he says. We pound fists and diverge into campus.

The first student I approached circled 5. But he was eager to talk. As soon as I graduate Im gonna enlist, he said. I feel its my duty. Fair enough, I said. The second student I talked to said she was going to vote for Bush because my daddy said if Kerry won hed lose his job. Does daddy work for Lockheed Martin? I asked. He works for Frito-Lay, she said. How would he lose his job if Kerry won? I dont remember, my daddy told me and thats that, Im voting for Bush. I was speechless. For a while I didnt approach anyone. I needed to come to terms with reality. Not only do republicans really existI knew only two republicans before going to Ohiobut theyre more ignorant than I imagined. And such fuckin lockstep, everyone just does like the rest. Im voting for him because I believe hes a very spiritual person and Im a very spiritual person, spirituality is really important in my family, and my family is voting for him and thats why Im voting for him. What would you do if a stranger said: You cant change presidents in the middle of a war, thats a sign of weakness. What would you do if a stranger said: I just dont like the other guy.



What would you do if a stranger said: Well youre obviously not voting for him so what do you care? Ill tell you what I care! Ill fucking tell you what I care, I care about the future of our country. Were in dire fuckin straights here! This war is pre-emptive and unjust, there never were WMDs, and its cost billions of dollars, dollars that could have gone to health care or student loans, and plus Bush is a crazy Christian homophobic baby killing coke-head Coast Guard deserter daddys boy! It was ludicrous. Everyone I talked to proclaimed hardhearted reasons they were voting for Bush. And they were all 5s. Then there were the pro-lifers named Amber and Tiffany. I just cant vote for someone who kills babies, Tiffany said. What about Iraqi babies? I said. You know what she means, Amber said. She means babies that arent born yet. Babies that arent born yet I think those are called pregnant women. No, its Gods unborn children, Amber said. They stared at me. Expressionless. They blinked. I hope you both get raped, I said and walked away.

I found Mike walking up the path with clipboard in hand. There was a certain bounce to his step. How you doing? he asked. I hate these people, I said. Really? Mike asked. Everyone I talk to is voting for Kerry, all I do is tell them where their polling station is. I glared at Mike, smiling in his laurels. Yo son! someone yelled. It was a Wright State University student walking amongst friends, all of them black men. Yo son, Im glad someones looking out for us niggas! Dont let them give you any shit at the polls, make your vote count! Mike replied. Then he looked at me. So youre not doing so good? No, I said. Keep hope alive, Mike said, moving on to a pair of black women.

I made my way to the South side of campus where I met this girl who


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said she wasnt going to vote. Youre not going to vote? I asked. No. Why the fuck not? Because my boyfriend is voting republican so if I vote democrat it just cancels out his vote. You do realize that by not voting it doesnt cancel out his vote, right? Right, but hes my boyfriend and we agree not to talk about politics. Thats insane.



Whats insane? All of it. I cant believe youre even having sex with a republican! Who said anything about having sex, dangit! she said. Then she ran away crying. It was right about then when I gave up.

I thought going to Ohio to speak with voters would lift my spirits, strengthen my confidence, at least give me a little encouragement. Far fucking from it. Sure, I may have talked to a few 3s and perhaps even persuaded them to vote for Kerry, but obviously it didnt make a lick of difference so theres no real point in elaborating on that. Our efforts were in vain and to be honest, none of us kidded ourselves about that when we were there. By the end of our trip, we knew. In the van driving back east to New York we shared our stories of by and large disillusionment. Gaby and Hannah said they did well as a team but steered clear of 4s or 5s. The middle-aged men said no one would talk to them. Anita the Spanish girl said guys just kept hitting on her. And Mike only talked to black voters. And thats how I failed to secure the fate of our nation in the company of a has-been 1980s child movie star.


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he morning after Halloween always hurts the most. And Im depressed. I think its my girlfriend that makes me feel this way. Our relationship doesnt seem right. I feel trapped. I ask myself, do I love her? Does she love me? What is it that we love so much about each other? Shes babysitting across the street today and as I write this I feel like Im betraying her. When shes away I get to thinking all these things and my path, a course of action, is so unclear to me that all I want to do is take a shower. Tomorrow shes going home to Connecticut to vote. Tomorrow I will vote. Tomorrow, hopefully, all of this will become much clearer. If Bush wins the election everyone will say, I told you so. The same can be said if Delida and I break up and I move out or she moves out and who knows what will happen then. My friend Davids ex-girlfriend told me that if Im thinking about breaking up with her then that solves my problem. Well, Im thinking about leaving the country too. I dont know who I am or what I want, but does that make me any different than



anyone else? Should I be separating my personal life from my political life? I dont think so. Everything is connected. Everything influences the rest. I remember when I was thirteen years old reading Kurt Vonnegut in my dads leather recliner. This was before I had sex, before I had a drivers license, before I knew to care about politics. I miss that. Am I foolish to admit it? There are many things worth fighting for in this world. Above all else you must accept responsibility for your own happiness, well-being, and sanity. I feel like thats all gone to the way-side. But its good to write. I feel blessed when I write, as if Im doing what Im meant to do. That sounds so fucking cheesy. The truth of the matter is that I havent written a single word in months. Maybe thats why Im depressed. Maybe thats why I dont feel like myself. Everything is connected. Only now, November first, are the leaves changing colors. It was seventy degrees yesterday. Today is a little cooler. Sitting here at the desk in the living room I watch the breeze blow the leaves off their branches and the sound of them slapping against their still clinging brethren is calming in so much as it is the sound of change.

Election Day Begins Tomorrow Live On Today. In times like these, these final hours, one must remember to hold fast and keep your eyes on the horizon. Stay level, comrades. Keep your head, for if you do, we will all reap the benefits of our composure. The prize? Surviving democracys drug-addled, alcoholic years filled with vociferous lambasting and domestic abuse is a reward in itself. And with that said, if tomorrow turns sour, you must take up arms. If tomorrow nights newscasters tell us what we fear the most, then by all means grab your pitchforks, light your torches, and pillage this land. Burn the crops. Salt the earth. Rape the young Republicans. Because if the worst be true, then by all things holy may this country go down in flames. Id rather kill my children then watch them be tortured. However, if the President incumbent is indeed dethroned then it is our duty as citizens of this great nation to take to the streets and celebrate the resurrection of democracy. The world shall rejoice unlike never before and Americans will once again be proud of our flag. Our history will be determined not by the election but by the actions resultant, be those violent or celebratory. Ladies and gentlemen, may we stick close


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to one another this week. May we see the future unfold with eyes wide and minds clear and most importantly understand that this is either democracys final death blow or, hoping against hope, a rekindling of dying embers at the campfire of boy scout troop America.




his morning I woke up first with a kiss from Delida before she left for Connecticut and then again, three hours later, with the sun on my face. I drank coffee, cooked myself an egg, read the newspaper, and smoked a few cigarettes before Bezer came in the front door unwrapping his scarf. You vote? I asked. Yeah, Bezer said, dropping into the seat and taking off his bike riding gloves. I nodded. And continued reading the paper. The election in Ukraine is a tie after 95% of the vote has been counted. Canadas giving the marijuana legislature another try. Iraq is as divided on the American election just like Ohio. Largest voter turnout in history forecasted for today. I soon left the house. I rode my bicycle to the church on Quincy between Franklin and Classon not two blocks away from my old apartment. Its been months since I rode through Bed-Stuy and seemingly


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nothing has changed. Classon Avenue died in my mind long, long ago. The neighborhood now seems typical, just another Brooklyn avenue. At the church I locked my bike to the fence while two hustlers across the street eyed me mindfully. It wasnt intimidation, simply presence, strong differences. They knew I lived nowhere near there and still only blocks away. Would they be voting today? I entered the church and approached a table where I told the two women seated what my address was, or had been when I registered three apartments ago. There it was, my name and signature in the book. I signed below my signature and accepted my voting card, which I then handed to the woman seated next to the voting machine. The process was speedy and simple although in hindsight it seems to have happened in slow motion, like those dreams in which you cant reach the end of the hallway. Inside the booth, I felt like I was at confessional like so many times during grade school. I flipped the switches and pulled the lever and was done. I had voted. Back outside I unlocked my bike and noticed the hustlers were gone. No one was on the street. Riding back towards my apartment, I decided to take the long way home and then an even longer way and then a longer one still. I just rode around, thinking about the last election, and this election, now my second election as a registered voter. I thought about all the presidents I would vote for in years to come. I rode through Brooklyn. And I felt relieved. Weightless. For better or worse, it would all be over soon

Now its seven PM. Frank Zappa plays on the stereo. Im cooking dinner for the house. A full meal indeed: salad, sausage jambalaya, shrimp mosca, a regular old Creole dinner. Well need full bellies to watch tonights events unfold. And beer. Cases of beer. Were having a little get-together tonight to watch the count. Bezer and Mike have decorated the living room with patriotic paintings and an American flag banner. The kitchen table is set, the votes are in, Mikes in the shower, and dinners almost ready. It feels like the last supper. Tonight we will crucify the Republicans savior. May it be a slow, painful death. God help us if were not victorious. Soon our friends will arrive, drinks will be poured, and the counting,



the countdown to democracy, will begin. And of those of you reading this now, I hope we can all remember this hour, the hour before national television coverage began. This hour, the calm before the storm, brings with it both the stench of corruption but also the sweet scent of success. All we have now is the wait. Now, we wait. And feast. Nothing more. Nothing less. Two years of campaigning have led only to this night, a fucking political apex. From here we can look out over the hills of history and see the trail carved through the jungle by the current administration. And if you look the other way, you can see the path yet to be paved. Out that way is only the densely vegetative future leading to what seems to be only two points on the horizon: to the southeast, a monolithic castle of stone and a material that reflects the sunlight like cold, hardened steel; and to the southwest, a pasture, a field of wheat and corn and fruit trees adjacent to a log cabin that at night resembles what could be a Trojan Horse. Yes, the future is quite polarized. And the decision has been made. Our purgatory will end, and our children can now rest, for soon enough we will know our fate, and that counts for something

The sink is full of dirty dishes. Its nine oclock. Friends have arrived and were all circling the televisions, three televisions, as were notified that suspected states have gone to expected candidates: New York to Kerry, Texas to Bush, Kerry gets New Jersey, Illinois, Maine, and Vermont, Bush lands the Dakotas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and the whole strip of Midwestern states known as The Heartland. Current count: Bush 156, Kerry 112. But the percentage counted is still low. At least thats how were justifying it. None of us think this is funny. No one here is laughing. But we refuse to cry. This is not defeat; this is simply the course of action. We will prevail. Those who voted for


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Kerry are optimistic and understand national economics and see the war in Iraq for the quagmire that it is. Those who voted for Bush are scared of terrorism and think abortion is murder. The Senate race in Kentucky is a dead heat after forty-something percent of the vote counted. I ask my friend Ed if he knows what happens if its a tie. He says, They have a gunfight, a good ol Southern duel. No, I say, finishing my Budweiser. I decide. I decide who wins. California will go blue. It must. If we count those fifty-five electoral votes the race is tied. Too close to call. We need more beer. The black vote goes to Kerry, as does the womens vote, the Jewish vote, andalbeit by just a marginthe Hispanic vote. The Catholic vote goes to Bush. As does the gun-owner vote. 18% counted in Pennsylvania. 66% to 33%. Thats Bush leading. Ohios too close. Fuck Florida. More friends have arrived, about a dozen now, and no one is talking, no one smiling, everyone drinking. Delidas home now too. She bought groceries and is putting them away. People in Ohio are still in line to vote. Even as I write this my friends are asking me what Im doing. I say, Im hacking into the voting machines and as soon as I hit enter, all the red states will turn blue and Kerry will be elected the next President of the United States. Everyone laughs, the first laughter Ive heard all night. I wish Tom Brokaw would let his emotion show. You want what we want, Tom. Its okay. Do not mourn yet, but let us know you share our fear. Were all Americans now. Even you, Tom. Let that red banner rise in Democracy Square and you betray all that this country stands for, all that you believe in. Unless, and God forbid, you too, Tom, are



Republican. Bush wins Missouri. Its definite. Everyones smoking now. And none of these people are smokers. Are you still on the internet? Eric asks. Not at all, I reply. Television just isnt enough these days. Years earlier, in the midst of my cultural studies obsession, I would be critiquing the codes and conventions of these televised reporters. But that isnt the priority tonight. Its much simpler than that. Although, the computer graphic transitions are quite impressive. They really hit home, bring it home, make it home. Colored maps, Madden-like highlighter computer markings, pointers, graphics, Democracy Square, war, abortion, gay rights, the next four years, Ill soon be thirty years old, my friends will marry or die, gentrification, globalization, out-sourcing, terrorism, counter-terrorism, tax increases, deficit increases, social security privatization, its all happening and Naders in it too

It seems that I blacked out. The clock reads 12:44 am. Whats happened? Bush is winning by more and more and what of these absentee votes? Theyre all voting for Bush, they tell us. Maybe. If so, its time to go. Make a clean break. I dont even want to riot for a country thats chosen this fate. This is the end. You know it. I know it. Tom Brokaw knows it. NBC was forty minutes delayed in calling Florida for Bush. Then they gave Kerry an additional point for Maine because three just wasnt enough and well give him four because it doesnt really matter. Im paraphrasing of course. No matter what happens, at least itll be fun, Delida says. Can you just say that itll be fun? I suppose, I say, finishing my beer. Were so lucky to be this age at such an interesting time. Sure are, I say, opening yet another beer. Were in for a long, long evening, they tell us. I dont think so. Almost everyones gone home; theyve given up. Ive given up. Is this how it all concludes? Is this how history is written? Am I nave to think this is the first time? Or the last? Never again, well say. And then well all go to work in the morning. This is not the end. Only the end for Kerry. Only


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the end for Democracy. Everything has its planned obsolescence point. Who knew it would be this soon? And thats despicable. Im moving to Italy. In my bedroom, our bedroom, Delida and Ed and Noreen are smoking pot. I join them. As Im closing the door behind me to block the noise of the televisions, I hear the announcement that Ohio has gone to Bush. I pause, absorb the fact, then close the door. They know whats happened and make jokes, sarcastic, entirely jaded comments about Bushs win. I dont laugh and Delida, cracking up, falls to my feet and pulls down my jeans revealing my yellow, smiley-face boxers. All of us laugh, and for just a moment, Im comfortably embarrassed, enough so to forget all that Ive watched on television tonight. Who cares about Iowa? 0% in Hawaii. Now NBC is saying they will recount the votes in Ohio. Well see. Ed is getting drunk. Delida asks me to drive Noreen home and because I hesitate she says I cant. She calls a cab. Its for the best, I say. I remember once when someone in silkscreen class told me that this was the best time in the last thirty years to be a student. And I agreed. But Im no longer a student. Hes our Nixon, Bezer says. Theyre recounting, says Ed. What if I wake up in the morning and find the paper to read KERRY WINS? What then? This is what Ill dream of tonight: sweet fantasies of democracy in action and happiness in life. Everythings connected. And weve lost. What tomorrow can bring will not massage out this neck pain. The entire country has whip lash. Theres a drunkard at the wheel. I feel like vomiting, Mike says. Me too. Delida and Noreen and Ed are sharing a high-on moment comparing physical deformities. Its almost two in the morning. I write the last line of Welcome to the Land of Cannibalistic Horses.



m in Seattle again. This Saturday is Christmas. Im stoned, smoking pot in my parents garage with the backdoor open and the light of the garage casts my tall, skinny silhouette across the backyard. The air smells salty here. And I suppose Im feeling better. I broke up with Delida and spent the last couple of weeks in New York sleeping on friends couches. Then I packed up all my stuff from the apartment and flew out to Seattle. Its the holidays anyway. I had planned a vacation but enacted an exodus. Things are looking up. And soon enough itll be the year 2005. And who knows what the future as in store for us. Im excited. Last Saturday I stayed up all night drinking with Mike in Las Vegas. Caesars, Excalibur, Luxor, OShays, Treasure Island, New York New York. We stopped in Vegas for twenty-two hours after spending a week in Los Angeles driving a convertible and collecting free pornography. We went to Hollywood Park, Roscoes, Church of Scientology, Vodka Bar Pink

Pussy on Sunset, and we crashed mostly in Pasadena. With Kai from Kansas City. She now goes to grad school out there. When we were with Kai I showed her Polaroids of War so she would know what I had written about our experiences. I told her to read it over and if anything bothered her that we could talk about it but basically I just didnt want anyone to be surprised by some of the content of this book. Kai read it over and then poured herself a glass of wine saying, Change my name. Okay, I said. And then Mike returned to New York and I returned to Seattle. Im flying back to Brooklyn on New Years Eve. I need to find an apartment. And a job. And I need to finish this book. Fabrica e-mailed me. They reviewed my portfolio and judged it interesting and invited me for a two-week visitation in April. The American death toll in Iraq has reached 1,500 and counting. I havent watched television in weeks. My parents are worried about me, my mental health. They dont want me to return to New York. But I have to, I tell them. I need to be there with Mike to finish the book. But youve been finishing this book for months, they say. I know, I say. And now Im ready. So Ill go back to New York and finish the book. And Mike then wants to get started on the second book. Itll pick up exactly where Horses ends, Mike says. Itll start with our trip to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, then New Years, and if we go to D.C. for the inauguration, and your trip to Italy, and then who knows where. Only the spirit world knows where we go from here, I say. Mike laughs. And I laugh too.


This book would not be possible without : Patrick Flynt & Joe Buck of Puberty Press

Design Guru Adam Bezer Editors James Tyler, Hannah Labaree Design Interns Drew Tewksbury, Tom Mylan, Stefie Wein Assistants Linda Feldman, Lance Kramer Art & Photos Samantha Weiss, pg 191 Jeff Campbell, pg 270-275 Delida Virgadamo, back cover bottom photo Special Thanks The staff at Pratt Institutes E DS computer lab Lucy Cummins, Dee on Myrtle Tittie Dog & Blackie The love & support of our families Pam Smith, Dan Smith Granny Doris Pam Palasz, Katie, & Jack McKeogh


$800,000 300-2 A Andre 3000 213 Atlanta Black Crackers, The 127, 134 Attell, Dave 448 B Barnes & Noble 320, 323 Barney, Matthew 315 Beer 28-30, 46-49, 68-9, 73, 77, 86, 93-4, 101, 113, 154, 202-208, 230, 245, 253, 255-6, 279, 282, 293, 297, 310, 320, 325-6, 333, 339-40, 351, 367, 369-74, 380-86, 393, 399, 401, 411, 413-5, 423, 431, 433, 440-2, 446, 452-56, 45960, 463, 478, 496 505-6, 534-5, 547-8 Bicycles 10, 28, 33, 112, 120, 544-5 Bodegas 19, 35, 86, 294, 530 Borglum, Gutzon 246 Brokaw, Tom 547-8 Brooklyn 10, 28, 43-4. 51, 113, 122, 175, 178, 203, 230, 246, 258-9, 345, 351, 379, 386, 392, 440, 444-5, 454, 467-8, 480, 486-7, 506, 521, 529, 545 Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., The 277 Built to Spill 282 Bukowski, Charles 47691 Bullock, Sandra 252, 271, 275

Bunny FM, The 451, 453, 458, 460, 463 Burritos 97, 230, 383, 431, 532 Bush, George 19-20, 29-30, 107-8, 136, 227-8, 283, 439, 490, 495, 499503, 508-11, 513, 517, 521-5, 532-41, 546-9 C Cab Driver named Kamil 400-6 Camp Close By 420, 4226, 429, 431, 441-2 Castrated Poodles 112 Chappelles Show 385 Chicago Bulls, The 104 Chlamydia 385, 350-53 Classon Avenue 9-12, 43-4, 84-6, 317, 468, 474, 514, 526, 544 Claus, Santa 447-8 Cocaine 209, 271, 286, 352, 370, 376, 378, 406, 413, 416-7, Coney Island Cyclone, The 307 Court TV 412 Crackheads 10, 85, 514 Creed, Apollo 121-22 D

Holmes Norton 222-3 Delida 477-84. 486-90, 505-7, 509-11, 513, 515, 517, 526, 530, 541, 544, 547-9 Democracy 31-2, 212, 229, 256, 521, 523, 531, 542-3, 545, 548, 549 Democracy Square 547-8 Denim Jacket 25-6, 29 Devils Tower, Wyoming 109-15 Die Hard 385 Dillard, John 361 Dinosaurs, Giant 430 Dinosaurs, Tiny 112 Disney World 284-299 Doppelganger of Jeff Bridges 532 Dreadlocks 11, 99, 124, 293, 352, 386, 392, 414, 473-5, 499-50, 529, Dreyfuss, Richard 110 E Egyptian named Paul 486 Einstein, Albert 31-2, 38, 137 Emotional Poet Lesbians 259 Ex-Husbands 384 F

Dead Skunk 138 Death 22, 42, 44, 58, 121, 164, 182, 226, 247, 30810, 312, 340, 386, 391, 397, 421, 438, 457, 476, 497, 509, 514, 536, 543, 545 DeFoe, Willem 412 Delegate Eleanor

Falls Avenue 196 FBIs Ten Most Wanted List, The 164 Force, Mike 98, 102, 257, 270, 277, 285, 308, 340, 434 Forest Knolls Rehab Center 421


Freckles 221 Fucking (Sex) 22-27, 29, 31, 34-5, 40, 58, 120-22, 126, 187, 259, 278-9, 332, 349-51, 480-2, 484, 4868, 505-7, 524, 530-1, 540 G Garvey, Marcus 474 Gibson, Charles 512-7 Ginsberg, Allen 118 Girl Problems 306 Glass Eye 414 Governor of New Hampshire, The 136 Green Dragon Tavern, The 216, 219 Gypsies 366-7, 382, 4223, 451-2, 456-9, 464, 466 H Heroin 170, 254, 310, 333, 342, 355 Hippies 60, 379, 407, 409, 420, 422-3, 431-32, 437, 439, 445, 451-52, 456, 458, 463-4, 466 Hitchens, Christopher 107 Hitler, Adolf 17, 224 Hoffman, Dustin 533 Hoffman, Gaby 528-40 Hollywood Squares 331 Hussein, Saddam 18, 20, 74, 271, 479 I Iguanas 455 Iraq 20-1, 28-9, 35, 42, 88, 107, 165-6, 182-4, 283, 297, 312, 314, 316,

414, 417, 494-6, 509-11, 513, 517, 522, 544, 547 J Jackalope 116 Jay-Z 445 Jesus 17-21, 53, 212, 221, 224, 263, 288, 323, 332, 408, 422, 425, 448, 483, 488 Jordan, Michael 417 K Kai 28-41, 124, 128, 279, 401-2, 528, 556 Karaoke 48-50, 93-95, 122 Kerry, John 123, 224-8, 509-10 Kevlar Helmets 398 Kit Carson Diner, The 499-504 Kucinich, Dennis 218 L LaChapelle, David 328335 Law and Order: SVU 302 Lego Pirate Series 121 Lehrer, Jim 509-11 Lewis & Clark 150, 398 Lithuania 329 M Midwestern Jaundice 124 Monkeys Ass 251 Monster Trucks 140-7 Mushrooms 286, 352, 354, 385, 434-5, 434-5,

454, 456, 460 N Nelly 150 New York Times, The 19. 35-6. 43-4, 108, 163, 174, 182, 357, 468, 523 Nipples 9, 43, 296 Non-Gonoccocal Urethritis 346-349, 352 O Odessa, TX 232-3 Ono, Yoko 273-6 ONeil, Buck 131, 133 Opium Den 354 P Payphones 371 Phish 11, 12, 44, 58, 64, 94, 209, 220, 305, 314, 366-469, 526, 528 Plagiarism 300-2 Plane Crash in Alaska 408 Police Officers (cops) 39, 46, 68, 213, 220-23, 226, 426, 428, 446, 488, 376, 378-82, 384-389, 411, 415-18, 440, 490, 506 Poster of Bob Dylan 434 Pot (Weed, Marijuana, Joints, Dope) 15-6, 19, 56, 59, 100, 121, 199, 201, 255, 262, 284, 288, 299, 336, 344, 351, 367, 373, 376, 381-2, 391, 406, 414, 420-7, 435, 437-8, 445, 450-2, 457, 460-2 Pratt Institute, 8, 174, 205, 232, 256, 258, 260,


262, 266, 269-70, 273, 275, 282-3, 302, 304, 307, 312, 316, 322, 325, 340-2, 356, 377, 491, 518 Prattler, The 16, 42, 253, 255-7, 260, 262-3, 266, 272, 275, 279, 282-4, 28790, 299, 303-9, 312, 317, 325, 327, 334, 336-9, 343, 357-8, 363, 482 Puking 46, 267, 316, 352-3, 369, 415 Q Queer Eye for the Straight Guy 475 R Rastafarians 73, 393, 474-5 Reality Television 89, 248 Red Roof Inn, The 367 Reed, Lou 329 S Sam 61, 63-65, 94, 97-8, 101, 104, 107, 120-22, 126, 130, 136, 141, 151-2, 180, 184-5, 195, 203, 205, 209-11, 230, 2301, 245, 277, 317, 370-2, 374, 410, 436, 447. 461, 475, 514 Samuel Adams Brewing Company, The 202-16 Savage, Dan 100-8, 251-2 Schieffer, Bob 522-5 Schwarzenegger, Arnold 531 Seattle, WA 18, 40, 44, 58, 65, 96-101, 103-6, 139, 155, 175, 217, 282, 311, 358-9, 371, 390-4, 399, 421, 430, 499, 500, 553 Shakedown Street 374-5, 379, 382-3, 439, 451 Sharpton, Al 62-4, 186, 188, 191, 475 Slow-Thinking Cambodian Girl 484 Smith, Olajuwon 71, 73 South of the Border 430 Spader, James 443 Spiegelman, Art 155

Spooky 486 Suntan Lotion 25, 351 Swastika 22-3 T Teleprompters 190 Time Magazine 154, 167 U U2 227 Unicorns Horn 360 V Van Sant, Gus 254 Village Voice, The 70-1, 312, 339, 410, 514 W Waffle House 369, 372-3 Walken, Christopher 453 Ware, Chris 151-2 Weiner Circle, The 153 Wild Horse Monument, The 391 Willis, Wesley 256, 358-63 Worlds Ugliest Man, The 289

A.P. Smith was born on the sixth day of the sixth month of the year 1982 in New Orleans, Louisiana. But he was conceived in Philadelphia. His writing has appeared in The Village Voice, Bikini Magazine, and DMV pamphlets, to name a few. He is currently unemployed & homeless.

Mike McKeogh graduated from Pratt for Illustration, changed his name to Mike Force as a joke and briefly worked as Art Director for the New York Press, the very paper that rejected Mike McKeogh for an internship months earlier. He was born in Seattle and now lives in Brooklyn.