Special Thanks to

:
Peg Dana, Ericka Wildgirl Dana, Don Rock, Eric
Houts, Gregory J. Stokesberry (aka“The Wizzard”),
Cynthia Sley, Steve Marsden, Tim Beckett and
all of the indie booksellers and the locally-
owned businesses who display OBSOLETE!
Advertising:
For current ad rates and sizes, please send a
request to: obmag@feral-tech.com
OBSOLETE! is edited and published by Rich Dana,
with art direction and illustrations by Blair
Gauntt of idezin.com.
Contact:
OBSOLETE!, PO Box 72,
Victor, IA, 52347
obmag@feral-tech.com
obsoletemag.blogspot.com
OBSOLETE!#5
Table of Contents
Warning: Oldster Rant Ahead
- Rich Dana 3
The Rise and Fall of Zuccotti Park
- City of Strangers 4
Three Poems - Chuck Miller 6

Before I Was Me - Lenny Zenith 8
Paintings - Michael X. Rose 9
Benchclearing - Spike Vrusho 10
Drag Racing’s Return to Romance
- Diana “Doc” Thomas 11
University of Strangers
- Bob Pfeifer 12
Illustrations
- Karim Hetherington 12&13
Kings of Scrap - Ricardo Obsolete 14
Patent Medicines - Ricardo Obsolete 15
We Interupt This Broadcast
- Christopher Schipper 16
Ivey and the Airship
- Cheryl Ammeter 17
Quasar Gets a Car
- Walter Sun Chien 18
Special Bonus Story: Orion Express
- Gauntt, Dana, Martin 20
About the Cover:
Te cover (as well as the contents page) features a charcoal drawing by Detroit
artist Robert Schefman. Te above drawing is entitled “Kings of Industry”- the
cover piece is “Nothing Unseen”. Schefman is on the faculty of the College of
Creative Studies, and his amazing artwork can bee seen at his website, http://rob-
ertschefman.com. Te publisher of OBSOLETE! wishes to thank Robert for his
generosity and support, now, and over the last 29 years.
WE WANT YOUR WORK!
Submit you writing and artwork
for OBSOLETE! #6
Deadline June 1st, 2012.
Look for more information at:
http://obsoletemag.blogspot.com/ 2
by Rich Dana
Tis year, I’m going to be 50. Yes, 50. It doesn’t bother me. I swear. I am soon going to be
50, which entitles me to be ofended by young people. I am. But I am only ofended by the
fact that I am not ofended by them. Tat is ironic. Tose creative people younger than
me- Hipsters- are supposed to be all about the ironic. So... I guess it’s working.
I know that the hipster thing is over. O-V-E-R. Declared dead in 2008 (by hipsters, ironi-
cally). Hipster bashing is old hat. But they just won’t go away. Some have gotten jobs and
been redefned as “Creatives”, but I’m still not buying it. Te wholesale re-purposing of past
cultural ephemera, without reexamination or personal refection, is neither hip nor creative.
To be honest, I feel ripped of. I feel like hipsters are ripping of my thing- our thing- our
old, 50 year old thing- the thing that came before their thing- which they don’t really have.
Tey need to get their own thing. Recently, a New York graphic designer redesigned classic
80’s punk rock gig posters (Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, etc) in the style of Swiss Mod-
ern design, cleverly tagged “Swissted”. Tey come of like ads from a 1960s issue of Look
Magazine. Although the designer is said to love punk rock and swiss modern design, to me
they are more about the designer’s love of the software and fonts that allowed him to create
the posters quickly and thoughtlessly.
Hipsters need to stop trying to be “ironic.” Tey need to start by looking up the word
“ironic”, because they aren’t. Ironic, I mean. Tey are robbing the word ironic of it’s irony.
I’m like my mother, who loved gay people, but hated the fact that they had ruined the word
“gay”. Tat’s ironic. Sarcastic is something else. It’s a much blunter instrument, and implies
a certain amount of contempt- and maybe even some self-loathing.
Christian Lorentzen of Time Out New York wrote “hipsterism fetishizes the authentic”
elements of all of the “fringe movements of the postwar era—beat, hippie, punk, even
grunge,” and draws on the “cultural stores of every unmelted ethnicity,” and “regurgitates it
with a winking inauthenticity.”
“Winking inauthenticity” is not irony. It is laziness. Hey, you- wearing the Linda Rich-
man glasses- You never watched the Brady Bunch. You never played Atari. If you had, you
wouldn’t be wearing that shirt. “My dad grew up in the 70’s, and all he brought me was this
stupid shirt” might be a more appropriate. Tat’s sarcasm, “BTW”, not irony. But enough
hipster bashing.
At 50, I was born into a fairly narrow demographic. I see it bracketed by 2 factors; the
end of the American military draft in 1973, and the advent of the mass-produced personal
computer in 1977. Tose who were too young to be drafted to go to Vietnam were born
after 1953. Tose who are too young to remember a time without personal computers were
born after 1973, generally. Tis leaves a two decade spread of late baby-boom to early gen
Xers that don’t ft into either group. A “Blank Generation”, so to speak. We grew up with
the Middle East Energy Crisis and the fear of Mutually Assured (nuclear) Destruction. We
grew up lacking either the unifcation of the anti-war movement or the hive mind of the
internet. We are the last of the analog dinosaurs, a merry band of angry loners and misfts.
I feel fortunate, though, to be a part of this small cultural segment. Tis is where punk
rock was born, the indie music scene that turned its back on the corporate record industry.
Tis is the generation that hit the road in a van, playing house parties, trading cassettes and
xeroxed fanzines. Tis is the generation of phone phreaks and hackers and cypherpunks
that blazed the trail for Anonymous and LulzSec. Cyberpunk, Splatterpunk and the other
various “punk” literary genres infuenced the “look” of the 21st century. Blank Generation
artists put their images on stickers, on fyers, on clothing on record sleeves- on subway
trains, dumpsters and cars. DIY, as a movement, was born of the punks, all of the various
favors shared that Do-It-Yourself aesthetic.
Tis issue of OBSOLETE! is dedicated to all of my Blank Generation brothers
and sisters out there. Keep writing- keep rocking, keep making art. Until they
fnd their own voice, the hipster generation needs you to show them the way.
And I guess...I guess that’s what getting old is all about.
Warning: Oldster Rant Ahead
3
Zuccotti Park on Sunday afternoon was practically empty. Te barricades remained in
place, doubled or even tripled around the perimeter. Tree protesters stood behind the
barricades, half-heartedly handing out leafets, and a couple of security guards tossed a
football back and forth inside the square. Less than a dozen cops stood around the square,
clustered in groups of two or three. Te Christmas lights had been stripped from the trees,
the ground lights had yet to be turned on. With the brown marble tables and benches, the
lack of natural light, the almost total absence of people, Zuccotti looked and felt like the
drab corporate space it was designed to be, the kind of space you could walk past and not
even notice.
Hard to remember that not so long ago, Zuccotti Park was a village within a city, as
crowded as a public square in Bombay or Shanghai.

I didn’t think that Occupy would go anywhere at frst. I went down a couple of weeks after
the occupiers took over the park. Press coverage had been minimal, and mostly derisive: the
occupiers were hippie losers, well-heeled, over-educated brats, hypocrite Luddites broad-
casting video and twitter feeds from their assembled-in-China laptops. At frst glance, I
wasn’t too encouraged. Occupy seemed like a replay of the anti-globalization protests of
the ‘90s, a replay of every protest cliché going back to the ‘60s. People with signs stating
war and greed were bad, comparing Wall street to the Nazis. Kids with dreadlocks playing
bongos and guitars in a drum circle, a young woman standing on a parapet holding up
a sign that read ‘Free Hugs’. A dude in aviator shades and a bandana around his head on
Broadway, bellowing over the mid-day trafc and drum circle behind him. As far as I could
tell, he was addressing the uniformed cops lined up along Broadway, appealing to their hu-
manity, but with his hoarse voice, and habit of stretching his arms to the sky like he was at
a religious revival, he seemed frankly crazy. While I was glad someone was fnally protesting
what had happened on Wall street, I thought the whole thing would fzzle out in a month.
Yet I kept going down. I’d just moved permanently to the city, and after years of mov-
ing between my native Canada and New York, and my feelings for New York, the US in
general, became bound up in Occupy. Watching the square take shape was fascinating, and
a published a series of descriptions on my blog, intended as a snapshots of a movement in
progress. Info booths sprang up, along with a kitchen where dozens of people lined up for
cooked meals, complete with salad and desert. Tere was a media center, bounded by metal
tool boxes, a volunteer outreach station, a nascent library with crates flled with donated
books and magazines that volunteers were attempting to put into some kind of order, and
a host of tables that seemed to change function with the day. Placards from demonstrations
were laid out on the pavement along Liberty Street, and tourists headed to the just-opened
9-11 Memorial Museum stopped to take pictures, pondering the often-witty slogans, the
mounds of sleeping bags and personal belongings piled up all about the park. Te occupi-
ers were striving to keep the park clean: a crusty kid, jeans hanging in strips of his legs,
circulated through the park, sweeping up trash and dumping it in the dustbins. Tere was
a security detail, headed by a guy who had a shaved head and the bearing of a Marine, but
turned out to be a truck driver and a musician.
Te sign-holders on Broadway were the most visible manifestation of occupy. Tey varied
with the day, even the hour. One saw many seasoned activists, many students, but many
unexpected fgures as well. Like the numbers of ex-military, veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan,
even Vietnam. Or the pair of young Orthodox Jews, wearing skullcaps, holding signs and
shouting slogans, next to the legless midget drumming on an upturned plastic bucket.
At noon, iron workers from Ground Zero came down to have lunch. Te ironworkers
seemed friendly with the protestors, and I read later many supported the movement, even
if their union ofcially didn’t, that they’d had demonstrations of their own and no one had
paid attention. So too came the Ron Paul supporters, often dominating the sign-holders on
Broadway, calling for an End to the Fed and other Ron Paul slogans. Tey were a diferent
element, often looking a little like Bible salesman, eyes with that odd true believer gleam.
But they too were part of the movement.
So too were the cops. Tey’d closed of Wall street in front of the NYSE, and some days
they seemed to fll the whole fnancial district, driving around in squad cars and vans, hov-
ering overhead in helicopters so you felt like you were in a military zone. Te guys in white
shirts were everywhere, but the uniformed cops were courteous with both pedestrians and
protesters, and even seemed amused by some of the protestor’s antics.
Suddenly, the movement gained momentum. Te Teamsters, the Transport Workers Union
and fnally the Health Care Workers Union all joined in for the big rally on October 15th.
Suddenly, on came the media. I’ve never seen so much media in one place as the morning
of the rally: camera trucks were lined up along Broadway, Liberty and Cedar streets. Te
square came alive with a media glow as stringers from every major network from the US to
Europe to China roamed the park hungrily, looking for someone to interview. Along with
the MSM, there were dozens, possibly even hundreds, of people flming with cellphones,
ipods, fips, flming the protestors, the camera crews. No doubt about it, this was an
EVENT.
Te rally was a big success and that night the square was so crowded you could hardly get
in. Michael Moore was at the square for the third or fourth time, making a speech, and the
camera crews were still out in force, lined up along Cedar street, flming protestors who
came out with banners or outrageous costumes. Te drummers were out in full force on
Church street, making an incredible racket. Te square had a sense of sharp exhilaration I
hadn’t felt on the NY streets for years.
I didn’t make it back for a couple of weeks. Te occupiers survived an attempt by the
Bloomberg administration to evict them early one Friday morning, as well as well as the
confscation of their generators, just before a freak snowstorm which dumped a foot of
snow on the city. Tey’d been allowed to set up tents. When I saw the tents and the blue
tarps, huddled together beneath the trees, my initial thought was of the homeless camp at
Tompkins Square Park 20 years before. But this was diferent: much more orderly, infnitely
more clean and with none of the undertone of menace which had plagued the Tompkins
camp.
Te energy had changed from before the big really: less frenetic and charged, more buoy-
ant and confdent. A Dixieland band was playing near the steps. Many fewer crazy signs on
Broadway: most were clear cut calls for Wall street accountability and economic justice.
Te camp was taking on aspects of permanence. Te tent city had taken over the open
areas of the park and there was hardly any room for the general assemblies. In the library,
the books were sorted and labeled, placed into book cases, with volunteers manning the
library. Paths led between the tents, as well-defned as city streets. Some of the tents were
arranged into semi-compounds, and cordoned of with lengths of rope, others opened onto
the street.
Problems: Gothamist, repeating a story that had appeared in the Daily News, had run a
report of two camps, the community activist east end near Broadway, and the alkie/crusty/
drug-dealing west end (thus reversing the usual urban arrangement) near Ground Zero,
hinting at the degeneration of Occupy into chaos. A rape had reportedly taken place, and
reports surfaced, again in Gothamist, that the NYPD was sending homeless people and
released convicts to the park. Bloomberg had declared security a ‘disgrace’. Tere had been
complaints from the community board – which, in the main, had been supportive – about
the drummers going on well into night. A couple blocks away, you’d see packs of crusty kids
begging change and a woman at one of the general assemblies talked about not feeling safe
in the park at night. Even Chris Hedges, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who’d been
an early and vocal supporter, said the park became a diferent place after 1am, though he
added that security had done “a remarkable job under difcult circumstances.”
Walking around, I didn’t see much evidence of any druggie/ criminal element, on either the
west or east side. Signs at every entrance warned against drug and alcohol use, aggressive
behavior. Te tents were all packed together, with legions of people crawling in and out,
even in front of the General Assembly. Clothes hung on lines below the tarps, and some
tent areas had been roped of. On Liberty Street, I saw a man get out of a tent with two
The Rise And Fall of
Zuccotti Park
by City of Strangers
City of Strangers hides out and somehow survives in a rapidly-changing New York City and blogs
from the margins. His fxation is the ‘80s and early ‘90s, but he makes forays into the present. He
was fascinated by the ‘Occupy’ movement as a throwback to an older, livelier New York. He is writ-
ing a novel ‘Pilgrims’, and publishes periodically in Sensitive Skin Magazine. His site can be found
at http://cityofstrangers.net
4
small children, who had evidently been staying with him. Te crowd was much more black
than a couple of weeks before. At the West Harlem Occupation booth a couple of dudes
were conferring with a young Asian girl, and two black girls in their late teens stood on
Liberty Street waving signs protesting school fees, while older black activists led a discussion
group near the kitchen. Te ‘bad’ west end had its fair share of crusty kids, but the atmo-
sphere was convivial. Some kids bummed change ‘in support of the occupation; many had
the not-so-irrelevant excuse that they’d been in the park since the beginning and needed
money just to get by. Te kids had set up a cigarette table where they gave out hand-rolled
cigarettes, and a phone table where people could make calls using pre-paid cards and cheap
cell phones. Some other kids, more clean-cut, manned info booths, some so tired they’d
fall asleep right in their chairs. Te American Indian Movement had a table just behind the
kitchen, manned by an old Shoshone man from the Southwest. A couple of fully-bearded
Orthodox Jews conferred with a woman organizer (a branch of the Orthodox had come out
in support of Occupy, and young men in skullcaps were among the regulars out holding
signs on Broadway). Many Teamsters circulated, wearing union jackets, as did increasing
numbers of Hispanics (the second issue of the ‘Occupy Wall Street Journal’ had come out
in Spanish as well as English), health workers of all races, middle-aged teachers and nurses.
As before, the cops surrounded the perimeter, in greater or lesser numbers depending on
what was happening that day. Te uniformed ofcers at least seemed relaxed, even sympa-
thetic, and there seemed to be a genuine symbiosis between some of the cops and some of
the protesters. I’d often see protestors (including, one night, a guy dressed up as Captain
America), chatting amiably, even laughing, with individual ofcers. Like everything else
about this movement, relations between protestors and police were complex, mysterious
and ever-evolving.
Te park became so crowded, you could barely move from end to the other, and it was
hard to tell how many people in the park were actually involved in Occupy, how many
were media, how many just curious. Te energy was slightly exhausting, especially when
the drummers were banging away in the west end, but also exhilarating. You could feel the
confdence, the sense of momentum, see it on protestor’s faces. World media attention, and
the rapid growth of the movement, gave the general assemblies that weird camera glow,
like everyone present sensed they were at the centre of history. Walking around, you heard
young and old alike talking politics, economics, the future of the movement, as if the park
had become a Parthenon of tarps, ropes, and rolled cigarettes. A sense of goodwill reigned, s
you felt like you could talk to anyone. It reminded me, most of all, of the New York I came
to in the early ‘90s, of the city on those mesmerizing days when the whole city seemed to
be levitating with energy and you could look into the eyes of a total strangers, and share the
sense of what a wonderful thing it was to be alive and in New York at that moment.
Ten it was over.
Te cops came in at two am, backed up by klieg lights and helicopters and cleared out
the entire camp. When I went down a couple days later, riot cops surrounded the park,
standing on the parapets so they looked like they were on horseback, ready to charge. Te
NY court had just ruled against the protestors staying overnight in the park, but the news
hadn’t spread and protestors were picking up their dufel bags and heading back to the park.
Te park was cordoned of by metal fencing and the crowd of protesters and onlookers was
so thick the cops didn’t even try and move them of the pavement. Te TV trucks were
lined bumper to bumper down Cedar street, and in front of them was a line of riot cops,
swinging their batons as if they couldn’t wait to use them.
I peered into the square. It was totally empty. Gone the kitchen, library, media centre, info
booths, drummers. Te ground lights had been turned on, and light refected eerily of
the leaves, so the trees glowed neon yellow. I was stunned to see it empty: a part of me had
come to think of the camp as permanent, a village within a city.
A huge cheer went up from the crowd. Protestors were fling back in. A few at frst, then
dozens, dancing around on top of the ground lights. I went down to the west end to get
away from the crowd. In the space where the drummers used to be was a huge riot cop.
In silhouette, he looked like a walking fridge. Protestors had flled the square’s east end,
and had started trickling west, sitting casually on the steps as if it was noon and they were
about to have lunch. On Liberty street, I saw a shape by the fence and looked down. A guy
was passed out right by the fence on top of his possessions, oblivious to the activity around
him. Inside the square, protestors, riot cops, and maintenance guys in yellow vests milled
around, each group ignoring the other, ground lights illuminating their faces, so
they looked like they were on stage, getting ready for a performance.
Te next morning, protestors tried to shut down the NYSE. Tey failed, but by
11am, more than a thousand occupiers had flled Zuccotti Park, trying to take down
the barriers and skirmishing with the riot police. I watched the struggle from the
corner of Cedar and Church. It was like having a front row seat at a rugby match,
and I thought of how much modern protests are about performance, camera optics.
Te protestors kept trying to rip down the fencing, then lines of cops,
shields down, would put it back up, while TV cameras, cellphones and
ipads recorded everything in the background, and lawyers from the Na-
tional Lawyer’s Guild, wearing yellow hats, kept watch on the sidelines
like referees. Just a few feet away were hundreds of spectators. If it had
an air of spectacle, there was real menace in the air, since you couldn’t be
sure the melee might not spill out into the crowd, and the anger and hatred
between segments of the cops and the protestors was very real.
Rallies and marches took place all over the city that day, culminating in a huge
rally at Foley Square, and a march over the Brooklyn Bridge. Te riot cops were out
in their hundreds, taking over much of lower Manhattan, surrounding the rally in lines two
and three deep. But by late afternoon, Zuccotti was almost empty. Two women were sitting
at the bottom of the square, knitting and talking to a man leaning over the fence about the
NYPD raid. Te cops had confscated the library, and even if much of what they’d taken
had been put in a storage unit by the city, much of the library had been damaged or de-
stroyed. One of the women had been sleeping in the camp when the cops had arrived. She
said the sanitation workers, part of the same Teamster’s union that supported the Oc-
cupiers, threw all the trash on top of the tents, the sleeping gear, everything.
“One of the kids watched his guitar being crushed in the back of the garbage
truck. Tey say we can reclaim our stuf – how can we reclaim what’s been
crushed?”
“I thought the sanitation workers’ union was behind you.” Someone said.

A week later, only a few protestors showed up at the park. Maybe a couple of
dozen, marched around the perimeter, shouting ‘we are the one percent’ bang-
ing on drums, playing trumpets. But the energy was gone.
And yet . . .
As of this writing, the court has ruled that the barricades surrounding the park
are illegal, and protestors are back in the park. Not overnight, not even to lie
down (lying down is illegal now). But the Occupiers back in Zuccotti, and
perhaps the village within the city will live once more.
5
Poetry: Chuck Miller
6
Chuck Miller was born in Kenney, Illinois in 1939. He lives in Iowa in a small wood frame house
flanked by a lean-to that shelters his latrine. He built it with a friend in 1984, with scavenged and
donated materials. He is the author of several books of poetry, including “Northern Fields”, “How in the
Morning” and “Crossing the Kattegat”. He attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, but later left because of
the elitist atmosphere. He has served time in federal prison on pot charges and taught writing in
Siberia. He writes on a typewriter.
7
Before I Was Me
by Lenny Zenith
Lenny Zenith is a writer and musician from New Orleans, who currently lives in NYC with his wife Anne
and cat Seymour where he works as a web monkey, and still performs intermittently. He’s often featured at
NYC’s “Loser’s Lounge, and over the years his bands have opened for XTC, Gang of Four, X, Iggy Pop and
U2 among others. He has also played Te New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival several times and has
toured the U.S., Canada and UK. He is currently completing his memoir “Before I Was Me”.
It was early summer in Southern Louisiana. I sat sullenly, chatting mindlessly with my dad, the
liberal, pragmatic Methodist minister, as he drove our rusty Dodge Coronet up Highway 23. I
imagined he was going through his own set of heightened prayers for a miracle that day. His
usual optimistic demeanor and easy smile seemed a little more forced this morning as he tried to
put me at ease with his own mundane conversation.
“Okay, here, we are coming up to the toll bridge that will take us to the East Bank”, he narrated
so as not to have to discuss anything of signifcance.
Even with the sketchy details I’d been given -- “courthouse”, “quick”, “nothing to worry about”,
we both knew we were driving into the depths of an unimaginable emotional maelstrom. My
stomach was in knots as he gripped the steering wheel in uncharacteristic anxiety.
Pointe à la Hache means ‘cape of the axe’ in French, and the signifcance of this name is not lost
on me now. Tere was a ferry and a toll bridge from West Pointe à la Hache across the Mississipi
River to Pointe à la Hache, and it is the furthest downriver vehicle crossing point on the river.
In dreams, I have driven, crawled, run or rowed across this heartbreaking expanse, but on the
actual day the custody hearing happened there was no escape or going back to the other shore.
Tere was no air conditioning in the brick Federal Building at Point a La Hache. Large metal
fans feebly oscillated in the gigantic marble and wood-paneled courtroom, flling the silence
with their sleepy rythm. Sherif’s ofcers sweat through their uniforms while court clerks fanned
their moist thighs underneath their fowing dresses. I fdgeted uncomfortably in the large
wooden row next to my dad. My mom had come separately and sat across the room. Her face
was a taught Kabuki mask of denial and bravery while she tried her hardest to maintain her
composure for all seventeen minutes it would take the proceedings to conclude.
It seemed like hours, but fnally I was called in front of a jowly, black robed Plaquemines Parish
divorce court judge. “Blanche, would you please come up to the bench”? I hadn’t been called
Blanche since I was 5, and only then by my pediatrician Dr. Mason, so I was at a loss as to
whom he was talking. My dad nudged me and said “that’s you”.
It didn’t feel like me. It wasn’t me, though for the court’s purposes it was. Wearing light beige
cotton slacks and a navy gingham shirt I thought might not make my mother too irritated, I
timidly walked forward. Like a confused alien, I looked around and the judge asked this trem-
bling thirteen-year-old,
“who do you want to live with Blanche?”
Tere was that horrible name again, the one I had been given at birth but was never called by
anyone, except Dr. Mason who would put his cold stethoscope on my skinny chest and who
prescribed suppositories for my mom to hold in my butt.
“Oh, I’ve been told you prefer to be called Lenny”, he continued. “Lenny, who do you want to
live with your mother or your father?”
I looked frst at my mother and then at my dad.
My mother sat upright. She stared straight ahead, and barely made eye contact with anyone,
especially not me. My dad fdgeted nervously, chewing the inside of his cheek, trying to smile
calmly as if the plot might change at any moment, or the omniscient director might produce
some deus ex machina that would drive my mother back into his arms.
Our devoutly Methodist, occasionally happy, family of fve was about to break. Life was about
to change more signifcantly than it would by switching schools or moving to new towns. One
more of the most important beliefs I held was about to be overturned by another swipe from
reality. First, at the age of 11, that there is no Santa Claus. Ten that God, who could do
anything; move mountains, make miracles, raise from the dead, didn’t always do so -- and now I
was to learn that families don’t always last forever, nor does God turn you into a boy, no matter
how hard you pray.
-------------
After the formal split, my dad and I moved from the rural two-story house in the humid
swamps of Buras, to a small room in Kingsley House, ninety miles north in New Orleans. Co-
incidentally, we lived in the same Garden District neighborhood of his
frst church, Felicity. Kingsley House was a giant former
convent, with multiple wings, that had morphed into
United Way housing for orphans, mental patients, and
indigents. We didn’t stay long. It was a halfway house, ap-
propriately: half way between our family and our future.
Even though I wasn’t sure of what was happening to
my body and my mind, I felt like there was something
really wrong with me for wanting to be a boy so bad.
My ‘wrongness’ had made everyone unhappy, confused,
angry and sad. My
parents’ divorce was
all my fault.
As I sat alone in the
weird room with
two single beds,
our suitcases still
packed, I waited for
my dad to return
from the front
ofce.
Since my dad
was ofcially out
of work, and surely had no savings, this room
was all he could fnagle for us. It was clean and
we managed to carve out a bit of a life there
for a brief month or two eating in their
cafeteria, wandering the sterile hallways
and exploring the courtyard. I lied to
my childhood friend Victoria (who
loved any type of drama or gos-
sip), telling her that I’d had a
nervous breakdown after
my parents’ divorce
and was recovering.
I needed some sympathy and the lie didn’t seem far from the truth. I added that unfortunately
she could never come visit me there.
-----
As the months wore on, I determined my dad must be sufering, because he would frequently
ask me;
“What makes people change?”
He would relate that the therapist would tell him, “they must WANT to change”. Ten he
would circle around, and ask himself out loud; “What makes a person want to change”?
------
Tere was already an expansive gulf between my mother and me emotionally, specifcally be-
cause of my insistence on being gender non-conforming. We had fought dramatically about the
‘masculine’ clothes I’d choose when shopping, bulky jeans and corduroys (despite the fact that
it was usually above ninety degrees and humid in Southern Louisiana), or my lack of interest in
anything feminine. My mother was the feminine standard by which all other women within 90
miles could be judged -- elegant, made up within an inch of looking cheap, faux gold jewelry,
bangles and high heels.
I on the other had was a freak. With my wild curly hair, thick prescription glasses, disthmus
between my teeth and androgynous hippie clothes. I did not look or act like other kids my age. I
was certainly not feminine.
“Lenny! Why do you have to walk that way? Why do you have to wear those shirts? You are
NOT going out of the house dressed like that!” she would rage at me. Tere was never any
compromise with her. We had disagreements about clothes as early as I can remember. In frst
grade, “No, you can’t have the alligator shirts or Wallabees (suede ankle boots made by Clark’s
in England), they’re too expensive”, she would intone in her heavily-accented English. Her heels
would click down the hall,
“No you can’t wear that cowboy hat and holster, NO! you can’t have a football helmet and
jersey.”

My dad would interject when he could, “Helene, no one will remember what Lenny was wear-
ing ten years from now,” he’d say. I was thrilled whenever my dad would indulge me in some of
the things I wanted that he might have taken from donations to the church, a cowboy hat here,
or football helmet there.
-------
Barely twelve, although I had already started my period. Tey took me to Tulane Medical Center
to be tested for chromosomal anomalies. Tey made every efort to be as nonchalant about the
fact that maybe there was something horribly wrong with their oldest daughter.
Tey led me into the largest modern hospital in New Orleans. I had been in hospitals before
where my dad would minister to a sufering congregant or my mom would sing to a fading
geriatric, but never as a patient. I remember walking past enormous rows of patient records and
past the intake area into various waiting areas where I would meet doctor after doctor. Again, I
was scared, and confused, and certainly embarrassed. I must’ve been there because I had done, or
WAS, something wrong.
At Tulane I was tested by one of their renowned endocrinologists Kathleen Rives. She was a
large rather masculine woman with a short butch haircut, stern glasses and a serious demeanor.
Nurses poked my rail thin arms to draw blood. Much to my parents’ chagrin I suspect, she
informed them, “Tere’s nothing wrong with Lenny’s chromosomes. Perhaps, if we dug deeper,
we might fnd some slight anomaly, but we don’t see anything signifcant,” she said.
If only there might have been an errant Y hanging around. When I would see her a few months
later, in a follow-up appointment, she would confde to me, “I think I know what’s going on
here, and when you turn eighteen, come back to see us, we might be able to help”. It would be
six years until I could take her up on her ofer. I can assuredly say, that meeting Dr. Rives, in
1973 was one of the luckiest breaks I’d ever get in my life. Finally, someone in authority, would
tell me that maybe I could be ‘fxed’, that they might understand what was going on with me.
How my dad and I ended up in Glendale, California, certainly had something to do with his
friendships with two Latino families who he was fond of there. Perhaps he wanted to get as far
away from the pain as possible. Maybe he wanted to cause my mother the same type of pain she
had caused him by leaving and taking me as far from her as possible.
I have very fond memories of that time; Hawaiian shirts, Peter Frampton, skateboards, Jack-in-
the-Box, Beach Boys, and Suzy Neilan. School in L.A. was as fun and easy as it could be. For the
frst time, I felt completely free of my parents’ watchful eyes and my mother’s painful demands.
My dad was pretty broke most of the time, but somehow I managed to get a few cool Hawaiian
shirts, corduroys (de riguer attire in SoCal at this time), a fexifber skateboard, and later a pricey
aluminum one with Independent trucks and the latest polyurethane wide wheels. I practiced
freestyle tricks, 180’s, 360’s and studied Trasher magazine like it was a religious tome. Like the
lithe, tanned guys in the skateboard magazines of the 70’s, I longed to skate shirtless, with cutof
jean shorts and tube socks, bushy afro waving in the breeze. My idols were Tony Alva, Stacy
Peralta, and Jay Adams. I wanted to BE like them. I’d carry my board on the bus, and ride all
the way home downhill, with the sun glaring in my eyes until I had to stop myself in the grass
and roll of the skateboard onto somebody’s soft front lawn lest I ride into trafc.
-----------
After my correspondence with Stanford University’s Gender Dysphoria program. I had received
their packet and flled it out their lengthy questionnaire diligently, and returned the documents
hopefully. I knew the chances were probably slim since I was so young.
Before I had a chance to hear back from them, my Mom called my Dad late one evening and
said, “Robert, I had a terrible dream that Lenny was going to become a boy.”
I’ll never know if my mom genuinely has powers of extra-sensory perception, or if she was just
voicing the obvious. She will forever warranty it’s the former.
Soon after that, I was put on a plane (my frst) back to Louisiana, where I was sent back to live
the remainder of the school year with my Mom and two sisters in Buras. I had become used
to my easy California living and new identity as a boy. I was scared of the plane ride, but more
scared of giving up the freedom I’d carved out for myself. I was mildly traumatized by my dad’s
betrayal, and held a slight stutter for the frst few weeks to which my mom would reply, “You
have no reason to stutter, nothing that bad has happened to you!”
Te kids in Buras were mean and rumors circulated that I had a ‘sex change’ (even though I
was still 15). Girls who had cried when I left were very cruel to me even after having given me
a big going away party, records, and money for a new guitar only a year earlier! I sufered that
year, and even my sister Lulu didn’t understand what I was going through and wrote DYKE on
the sidewalk in huge letters in front of our house. My mother beat her so hard for that, that I
remember screaming “Mom, stop! You’re going to kill her!”
-------
Just before leaving my beloved California and Toll Junior High, my frst experience truly living
my identity, all the kids at school got together and made an spify little ‘album cover’. It was a
huge piece of white posterboard, with a big black construction-paper star on the front, with
“Lenny” spelled in silver glitter in the middle. Inside, they had all written, personal and
fond farewells, told me how talented and lovable I was and how they would miss me. Te
best ones were from the ‘cholas’, sweet Mexican girls, who kissed the card with their lip
gloss, saying how much they loved me and wishing me luck! In the middle of the card, sur-
rounded by all the signatures were the words - “One day you’ll be a star”!
8
Paintings by Michael X. Rose http://michaelxrose.com/
Directly descended from the last pirate publicly hung in Charleston, South Carolina, legendary scourge of the seas Earl Hugh Rose, Michael X. Rose’s known history dates from Decem-
ber 12, 1973, when the wretched child, of perhaps four years of age, was found abandoned on the steps of the Sisters of Mercy Home for Boys in St. John, Newfoundland. Since 2001,
Rose has eked his living exclusively from his artwork; painting, drawing, bookmaking, and occasional tattooing. When last seen, on July 25, 2011 he was known to be researching occult
phenomena in a vermin infested barn on the Bruynswick property.
9
Michael Barrett (Chi. Cubs) vs. A.J. Pierzynski (CWS)
May 20, 2006, U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago, Ill.
After two Chicago catchers became poster children for baseball brawling (basebrawl in
hackneyed headlinese) in the Spring of 2006, it would not be surprising if sociology grad
students, perhaps at Northwestern University, began a few studies in the Windy City. Te
educational probe might endeavor to fgure out the trends of reoccurrence for catcher-on-
catcher violence (Stearns vs. G. Carter included) and just what the city of Chicago is putting
in its drinking water to cause so many upheavals within a given baseball metropolis, Sand-
burg poetry notwithstanding.
It began with White Sox bullying of the Cubs during interleague play. On Friday, May 19,
the southsiders slammed the Wrigley tenants 6-1 at U.S. Cellular Field. Saturday’s sun-
splashed tilt was a nationally televised afair (cue up the usual montage over the Jim Croce
song), with the pitching mis-matchup of Freddy Garcia against Rich Hill of the Cubs. In
front of 39,387 allegedly divided Chicagoans, the teams wasted little time before mixing it
up. By the end of the summer, most baseball fans would know way more than they wanted
to about Pierzynski’s penchant for being a clubhouse irritant and a player they love to hate.
Readers of various sports magazines would know his dog’s name (Bubba) and that he is pals
with another bipolar fan favorite/media target (Doug Mientkiewicz), and while with San
Francisco chose to play cards instead of helping a disgruntled Brett Tomko prepare for a start
and had a knee-to-groin tussle with the Giants trainer.
Te game was scoreless in the second, but Hill had the bases full of White Sox with one out
when Brian Anderson stood in. He lofted a fy to left, which was caught by Matt Murton.
Pierzynski, who “runs like a catcher,” tagged up from third base and was bound for pay dirt
when Murton’s weak throw home bounced harmlessly behind him on the Comiskey grass.
Barrett, however, was hunched over and blocking the path to the plate, waiting to receive the
throw when Pierzynski arrived in a crouch, landing his shoulder against Barrett’s shoul-
der. Te impact sent Barrett perfectly backward -- the fipped turtle syndrome. Pierzynski
stopped dead and was seated perpendicular to the left edge of home plate. Home plate
umpire Greg Gibson was slightly up the frst base line, and directly behind home plate with
a better view than the ump was on-deck batter Scott Podsednik, who, if he had been tagging
from third, would have been seated in the dugout by the time Murton’s throw arrived.
Freezing the action as the catchers’ shoulders met, and seen from an overhead vantage from
the backstop, the U.S. Cellular home plate circle resembled a larger Sumo wrestling ring,
though Barrett appeared to be the only person wearing a ceremonial apron of any kind. Te
ofcial Sumo ring is 17 feet in diameter, while the MLB home plate circle is 26 feet. Barrett
was not knocked out of the ring, so the match would continue. And then some.
As Barrett righted himself without the ball, Pierzynski, still seated, slapped home plate with
a hammer gesture worthy of Breshnev at the United Nations. Te Cubs catcher later told
reporters he did not see this defant gesture -- home plate is rarely “bitch-slapped” as they say
on the streets.
Pleased with himself having riled the crowd and staked his team to a 1-0 lead, Pierzynski
rose triumphant and in search of his stray batting helmet. Staggering slightly, he collided
again with Barrett who was walking toward him. It was an “excuse me” commuter embrace
probably happening a few dozen times every morning and afternoon on Chicago’s el trains
full of briefcase jousters doing newsprint tangos getting on an of the carriages. Barrett sensed
an extra shoulder from Pierzynski and the two embraced in a classic contra dance position.
Tere was no jig or reel, however, as the straight-legged Barrett raised his right fst -- beyond
the clenched fngers umpire Gibson could be seen rushing toward the pair -- and Barrett
hammered Pierzynski’s jaw with a right cross that sent his foe staggering several feet in the
opposite direction, near the edge of the Sumo ring. At this point, Pierzynski and many of
Chicago’s Polish citizenry must have fashed back ever so briefy to the Deluge of 1655, when
the Swedes, with the help of the Cossacks and Tartars, invaded Poland and did some serious
damage.
Barrett, a former frst round pick of the Expos as a shortstop and native of Atlanta, is seen in
photos with his arm raised like a Kraftwerk mannequin to deliver the telltale blow. Photogra-
phers caught the split-second before the punch arrived, and Pierzynski bears a quizzical look
and Barrett’s face carries a disinterested gaze as if he were sorting the day’s junk mail. (Tere’s
also a shot of Barrett’s fst on Pierzynski’s cheek --a photo that goes down in baseball fght
history as one of the few to catch fst to face contact, up there with Rose vs. Harrelson and
the action shot of a massive Walt Dropo of the White Sox nailing the 41-year-old Yankee
Enos Slaughter in that 1957 melee in Chicago.)
Podsednik decided it was “go time” to borrow a phrase from the late Chris Farley --Pierzyn-
ski’s doppelganger if the catcher added 100 pounds. Podsednik lunged for Barrett and took
him down in an expert Secret Service-style chokehold as the onrush of players engulfed the
plate. Jacque Jones made a valiant efort to get Podsednik of his fallen teammate. Te day
game after the Friday night game can leave many an MLB bench riddled with somnambu-
lists, but the alarm clocks were apparently working on both sides for this one.
Barrett’s blow could have been inspired by the bases-on-balls frustration that saw Hill walk
the bases full before Anderson’s fy ball. Te catcher was carrying the sorry Cubs with his of-
fense early in the season. He had shown frustration before, a week earlier shouting down San
Diego’s Dave Roberts as he crossed the Wrigley plate during a Padres blowout of the Cubs.
In 2004, Barrett had carried a grudge against Houston’s Roy Oswalt, who hit him with a
pitch after Aramis Ramirez hit a three-run homer. Five days later, Barrett verbally assaulted
the pitcher when he stepped into the batter’s box. Benches emptied again.
Barrett vs. Pierzynski delayed the game 13 minutes and both main participants were ejected
along with sac fy author Anderson and Cubs frst baseman John Mabry who tangled rather
viciously. Mabry went to the hospital for precautionary X-rays after getting tossed. Podsed-
nik, the obvious “third man in” who did some damage to the Cubs catcher with his bulldog
move, astonishingly escaped punishment. When play resumed, he drew yet another walk
from Hill. Te following batter was Tadahito Iguchi, who crushed a 2-2 pitch from Hill
into the left feld seats for an out-of-the-frying-pan grand slam, putting the White Sox up
5-0. Iguchi was playing the role of Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (the Sinatra version). Te second
inning grand slam was his custom Continental. His El Dorado would come later in the form
of a two-run blast, giving the Pale Hose their 7-0 junkyard dog victory and the Fox broad-
casters something to talk about other than Barrett vs. Pierzynski.
Hill, still winless and without a leg to stand on in the postgame commentary, insisted
Pierzynski’s collision was “gutless” even though his own manager and several other heavy hit-
ters called the play legitimate “hard-nosed” baseball.
Barrett was suspended 10-games, the largest punishment levied against a Cubs player in the
history of the storied franchise. A week later, he started having back problems. And on Sep-
tember 2, 2006, in a game at Wrigley against San Francisco, Barrett was wondering why he
ever switched from shortstop to catcher. A foul tip of the bat of Matt Cain caught Barrett in
the groin. He had to leave the game and was hospitalized with the wince-inducing “intra-
scrotal hematoma” injury that would require immediate, season-ending surgery. Ouch.
Barrett would go on to experience further ball-breaking as he rapidly became the whipping
boy in the troubled early stages of the Cubs 2007 campaign. With retired instigator Lou
Piniella helming a Cubs squad with extra-high expectations, the bruins horrifc start in the
crappy NL Central brought a blood rain on the North Side parade. Within a three week
period in June, Barrett had made base-running and defensive blunders and then exchanged
blows with Cubs hothead starter Carlos Zambrano in the Wrigley dugout (Zambrano fn-
ished of his catcher moments later in the clubhouse, splitting Barrett’s lip and sending him
to the hospital.)
Days later, Barrett got in another verbal sparring match with one of his pitchers, the afore-
mentioned Rich Hill. A few days later, Zambrano was a sideshow instigator in a pretty good
haymaker fest between Chicago frst baseman Derrek Lee and Padres starter Chris Young,
a Princeton man. Barrett was not a major player in that brawl along the frst base line, but
with so many powder kegs going of in the quaint ballyard, Barrett had by then earned the
descriptive “embattled” before his name. On June 20, the Cubs front ofce had no choice
but to send him of to San Diego in exchange for the Padres backup catcher Rob Bowen and
a minor league outfelder.
So in the end, the trench warfare between the two Chicago catchers saw Pierzynski prevail
as he was still wearing a White Sox uniform as the southsiders also stunk up the town with a
miserable April, May and June.
Pierzynski, who was born in Bridgehampton, N.Y., of all places, had further cemented his
status as a baseball rogue, Uriah Heep in a chest protector, a Polish villain in the spirit of
Roaring 20s Canadian wrestler Stan Stasiak. In fact, Pierzynski made a pro wrestling cameo
as the “manager” of Dale “Te Demon” Torborg (son of Jef and the trainer of the White
Sox) at a TNA pay-per-view event in Orlando, Fla., in December of 2005 and again during
the 2006 ofseason, when he and Torborg confronted the diminutive World Series MVP Da-
vid Eckstein who was promoting an upcoming book. Pierzynski’s channeling of White Sox
boxer Art Shires probably had Judge Landis spinning in his grave (which is just a few exits
down the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago’s Oak Woods Cemetery).
Te old wrestler Stasiak, known to be well-liked outside the ring despite his ornery victory
strut, died from blood poisoning after breaking his arm in a match in Toronto. Pierzynski,
as he exited the gladiatorial soil of U.S. Cellular the day he clashed with Barrett, despite
getting hammered so publicly, waved his arms in the air to work the sell-out crowd in his
own Stasiak victory strut. He then entered the dugout for painfully robust high-fves with
unfortunate teammates, his straight hair jiggling Pete Rose-like as he gathered his gear and
headed for an early shower.
Providing further tests of ballplayer contract language, Pierzynski and Eckstein appeared for
a February 2007 pay-per-view TNA wrestling event promoted via a surprise appearance by
Yankees outfelder Johnny Damon. Dubbed “Basebrawl 2,” the match was met with chants
of “baseball sucks!” by the audience. Eckstein’s team won because Pierzynski “cheated” by us-
ing a folding chair (ofcially known as a “steel chair” in wrestling parlance) to strike wrestler
Lance Hoyt.
During that same busy ofseason, Pierzynski used his Chicago “pull” to land a security guard
assignment for a taping of Te Jerry Springer Show in January of 2007. He was called to duty
to help break up a fght on the set during a classy segment entitled “Dumped and Deserted.”
Spike Vrusho’s “Benchclearing: Baseball’s Greatest Fights and Riots” is half mock-legal textbook and half
a salute to the violent side of the game that was once “our” national pasttime. It was published by Lyons
Press in March of 2008 and scorches the shelves on a semi-annual basis. It is a frank one-sided discussion
of brawls and fan misbehaviors that include a chat with John Cangelosi, the smallest man to ever attack
an Atlanta Brave.
Chi-Town Showdown
An excerpt from “Benchclearing” by Spike Vrusho
10
is is an ode to the old school respirator mask- the
kind that drag racers of years gone by used to wear.
Now, a current wave of nostalgia-spirited racers
wear them as well. I like the explanation Lou Sgro
gave me for wearing the mask; “I want to look the
part- I used to wear a full-style helmet- actually you
can see a lot better with a full-style helmet- but I
want to look the part, and with the whole nostalgia
deal, I want to make it look like it did in the 70's.
at's why I wear the mask.”
ere is a kind of romance that goes with suiting
up with the old school respirator mask- it's not just
a matter of stepping into the past, but overstepping
the connes and style-starved stagnation of the
present. ere is no denying that wearing the mask
is denitely a gas.
To the uninformed and novice observer, you may
appear as some sort of a character straight out of a
60's sci B movie. But hey- that's not a bad way to
present yourself, at least not in my opinion- not
bad at all. I'd like to see a designated “wear your
respirator mask to work” day- to hell with “casual
fridays”.
My friend Joe Jacono used to drive the “Rollin'
Stoned” funny car in the 1970's. is is the respira-
tor mask and attire he wore. A striking outt, for
sure! Mike Boyd wears the mask as he courageously
pilots the "Winged Express"- an adorable, lovable
nitro altered at it's best. Yeah, that's me- wearing
the mask on loan for a music video shoot along
with re suit and pants. ere is a distinct aroma of
charred funny car and burnt fuel, but I'm loving it
so much- loving the old school. Yeah, it's the
romance of it all.
e romance....
Editors note: Diana “Doc” omas is the alter ego
of Yanna Trance, one half of the legendary NYC
alternative rock duo, Big Stick. Trance and partner
John Gill are currently putting the nishing touches
on a new release. Fred Schneider of the B52s and
Johnny Kelly (Type O Negative, Seventh Void,
Danzig) have recorded guest appearances on this
new record. http://www.big-stick.org
Yanna and John are also the creative team behind
Drag Racing Underground. DRU documents
regional racing scenes and the racers that keep the
DIY spirit alive. eir innovative video style is a
refreshing, independent alternative to corporate
sports media. "e Doc's" blog appears at
dragracingunderground.com.
11
Te following excerpt is from Bob Pfeifer’s new book, “University of Strangers”, published by Power City
Press. In a sensational case that made headlines all over the globe, American student Amanda Knox was
convicted of the murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in what Italian authorities described as
a sadistic sexual encounter. Pfeifer’s novel is a fctional re-telling of the case, detailing the eforts of a secret
society comprised of famous contemporary fgures from the worlds of literature, show business and politics, to
clear the girl’s name. A unique blend of fact and fction the book is a spellbinding account of the violence,
corruption and celebrity worship that characterize much of 21st century life.
Pfeifer was a founding member and primary songwriter for the critically acclaimed late 70’s power pop
Human Switchboard. He went on to a successful career in the record industry, working with Alice Cooper,
Joe Satriani, Ornette Coleman, Te Screaming Trees, Elton John, among many others. He lives with his son
in Los Angeles.
Branko P: An excerpt from his unpublished memoir about his involvement with the Strangers
and the Meredith Kercher murder trial.
Sitting in the emergency room in Italy was strange. We couldn’t really understand much of
what they were saying. I guess Juan could understand more than me, given that he’s Latino.
Some of the words make sense. But still I don’t think he gets much. It goes by so fast.
Te driver of the other taxi, a thin guy in his twenties, sat across from us, staring at the foor.
Juan and I weren’t hurt, just a few bruises. Both cars were mangled. We wanted to leave, but
were told we had to stay for X-rays. Our driver was in examination. Juan was done. I was
next. Juan nursed some cofee. I wanted to sleep. Te hospital took my want to sleep as a sign
that I might be hurt.
I thought, we should be tired. It was two in the morning. It’s been three hours since the ac-
cident. Te nurse warned me not to sleep. Te doctor told Juan the same thing.
We were wet and cold. Tat’s why we had blankets over us. Tat was nice of them to give us
covers. I fgured it meant we weren’t going to be arrested.
We landed from L.A. via Madrid yesterday. Took a bus into Rome proper to get something to
eat. Tat was all great. Found a cheap local place that served great pasta and mediocre wine.
We didn’t drink, so that part wasn’t a problem. Walked around a little to see the sights. As it
got later, we thought it best to just catch a cab to the train station. We wanted to catch the
evening train to Perugia.
We had a little trouble with the cab driver. He didn’t work his English much and we didn’t
know Italian. I said to Juan I thought he was high or something. And Juan said he thought
so too. I wondered if it wasn’t me or us jet lagged—maybe our judgment was of. He said no,
that wasn’t it, this guy was fucked up.
Tat’s when it hit me, and I said it to Juan, “Tis guy is going to get us killed.” We have no
control over that, Branko, it’s in the hands of God. Juan said it just like that. I looked at him
like, what is he talking about, and told him something about our having a choice and we can
get out of the taxi right now. Nothing’s stopping us.
Te guy looked to be nodding at the wheel. We tried to switch cabs, but the other cabbies
in the line refused to take us. He was next in line. Tat’s how it worked. We got back in. So
much for our having a choice. We pulled a map out and pointed to the train station.
“Okay, okay,” he said. “Alright, he’s got it,” I thought. In the maze of streets, we had no idea
where he was going, but ffteen minutes into the ride, he pulls over and gets out. We look at
him like, what are you doing now?
“One minute, okay?” He just says something like no worry, no pay. He gets out next to a
park. He’s yelling something at some street hooker. Another one comes by and pokes her head
in the taxi window. She’s so close I can smell her per- fume. And we make signs like, no, we
aren’t interested.
Te cabbie pushes her away from the door. She half- heartedly swings her purse at him. He
makes a fst like he’s going to slug her, but he’s really not going to and everyone knows he’s
not. He’s talking to the frst girl, who fnally opens up a little black pocketbook and hands
him something, not money. He shoves it in his jacket pocket and gets back in the cab.
“Okay, we go now,” he tells us, looking in the rearview mirror. He’s not all there.
We drive a few more blocks and he stops at a bar. Double parks. Cars honk. He fips them
of and walks in waving back to us “One minuto, eh? No problema” fnger in the air. I don’t
bother calling him on the meter. It starts to rain.
What’s this guy doing? No doubt something having to do with whatever he got of the
hooker. One minute turns into ffteen and we get out of the cab and walk.
We turn the frst corner, so he doesn’t happen to come out and chase us down.
Screw him.
It’s pouring now, and all the cabs are full or not stopping. It’s raining too hard to tell. Our
bags are getting heavy, but we make it to a hotel. Tere’s a line of cabs out front and we get in
one—luggage, us, everything wet in the backseat. Tis driver speaks English.
“Train station,” I tell him.
“Okay, good. American? What kind of the music you like?” “Rock.” “Okay.” He fips sta-
tions. And some Italian rock music comes on that sounds like Sixties movie music. Te guitar
sounds like bad Dick Dale. Te drums go bah—bah bah—bah. One and two, one and two,
all the way I’m waiting for Goldie Hawn to pop in wearing an itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie Polka
Dot bikini like we’re on Laugh-In with Sergio Leone and a rock polka band.
We’re moving. Finally. Start and stop. Honks. Intersections jammed. Noise. Raindrops loud
on our car.
We’re wet. My bags are on my lap. I can barely see out the front. Juan’s wiping the water of
his shaved head with a tee shirt from his knapsack.
“It be to train forty-fve minutes. Okay for you?”
“Yes okay.”
We have about an hour and a half to make it, so we’re okay. Juan sits upright, eyes closed.
I put my knapsack against my window and close my eyes. Jet lag hitting. I wake up. We’re
stopped in an intersection. A second later our taxi gets hit from behind. Maybe it’s the other
way around. Maybe we get hit and then I wake up. But I think I wake up frst. Te luggage
on my lap blocks my going forward. Look over: Juan’s okay. Te driver’s out the door yelling.
We get out. Te car behind us is smashed up, steam coming out of the hood. Te passenger, a
woman, went through the windshield. Blood. Rain coming down.
Juan and I become observers. We almost fade away. Maybe I’m in shock. Te cop directing
trafc is there in a second. He’s pissed of and on his mobile. We hear sirens in another two or
three. Tey pull her out. Ambulance. She looks familiar. I tell Juan she’s the girl on the street.
He asks me what girl I’m talking about, and I say the hooker who gave the stuf to the cab
driver by the park. He says he remembers, but I’m wrong. It’s the one who came up to our
window and took a swing at him with her purse.
He’s right and says, “She’s messed up, man”.
Te other driver, the frst one who crashed into the back of our cab, comes up to us and starts
yelling. He spits at us. Juan puts his fsts up, like let’s go. He used to box for the Mexican
national team—lightweight. Our driver runs over and gets in the guy’s face. Te cops break it
up.
Tey put the girl on a stretcher and rush her into an ambulance. I have no idea if there’s any
hope for her. It looks bad. Blood makes things look bad, but blood doesn’t always mean it is
bad. It just means it’s not good.
“Oh, shit.” I just put it all together.
“Yes, this is shit, Branko.” “No. I mean the guy who hit us is the frst cab driver. Te one we
left.” “Motherfucker. He want to fght. Branko, I kick his ass.”
I knew it, I think.
Te police cuf the frst cabbie, uncovering the track marks on his arm to show us what’s up.
Druggie. Tey tell us the girl is dead and take him away. Our cab driver gives him the fnger
and shrugs his shoulders. Our driver, being helpful, asks if he can call us a ride, probably
angling for a tip, but still it’s nice of him.
I look over the train schedule. No way we’ll make the next one now, and there isn’t another
for four hours. Ask the cops how far the train station is. Tey’re helpful. We just don’t under-
stand their answer. Te rain stopped. We decide to walk. Everything is wet. Puddles to avoid
in the dark. We know we’re going to feel lousy on the train to Perugia.
When you don’t sleep you dread the sun coming up. No shops, restaurants. Nothing’s open.
Just keep walking.
Illustrations by Karim Hetherington
Karim is an artist from Worchestershire, UK. His work is a mix of diverse styles such as far
eastern themes surrealism collage typographic elements and street art.
artofkarimhetherington.wordpress.com 12
Prisoner One Eye, a mercenary and former member of the French Foreign Legion:
I thought these guys were punks. I’ve known Chief Dennis since Spain or someplace Middle
East, been all over, twenty years, more, thirty, not long after I got out of Nam.
Te chief was thinking about making a move, like he was sick of them more, but I called him
on that. I told chief what I saw. It was at night, lights out, and there’s Branko in the little
kitchen we have. Not kitchen, what do you call it ... shit ... closet. It’s got a thing to wash
dishes, a toaster for bread ‘cause you don’t get pop tarts, a sink, microwave, that’s it.
So Branko’s there toasting. I see him with a loaf. And he’s cracking eggs. Never saw that. Fresh
eggs. We don’t get eggs, we get powder they make the eggs from. Nothing’s real here. So he’s
just cracking the shells. It sounded so beautiful. So he’s got the eggs in the shells, but he’s with
them in the open. I think he’s stupid. I said, hey. And he didn’t jump, just said something
back, you know, like what’s up doc, so he doesn’t care.
I say to him, Branko, I thought you were a motherfucking pussy wimp, but I see you got the
juice, like who the fuck are you? And he just says, One Eye, you want some eggs? Didn’t look.
I coulda smacked him and taken the eggs. He’s like, I’ll share, but not like he’s juice, just like
he doesn’t care, a nice guy. So I say, fuck no, because I know that’s power. More power than
that Mexican Juan packs. I mean anybody can kick Branko’s ass on our foor, anybody. Man
has eggs in prison, fuck me.
In recent years, I’ve vacillated between treating minor discomforts
with either a) the latest over the counter wonder drug and b)
over-priced natural cures. Of course, there are endless home
remedies, teas and tinctures that can provide eective relief to minor
ailments and discomfort, but often these are not terribly portable.
It’s hard to prepare a tea or plaster on a construction site, in the car
or at the oce.
ere are some older patent medicines on the market, though, that I
have found to be extremely eective, easy to use and relatively cheap.
Often, the ingredients in these old-school medicines are closer to
natural formulations, since the early pharmaceutical industry relied
heavily on medicinal plants to synthesize their products. e most
obvious example of this is Aspirin (salicylic acid), which Bayer
synthesized originally from willow bark. Some readers may be young
enough to have never taken plain aspirin, but it is one of the cheap-
est and most eective analgesic, anti-inammatory pain relievers
and fever reducing medications available.
Fisherman’s Friend is another old-time patent medicine that remains
unchanged since it’s invention in 1865. Sold in a simple paper
packet or re-usable Altoids-type tin box, these crude, grayish-brown
lozenges are a jolting mixture of menthol, eucalyptus, capsicum and
licorice. e avor takes some getting used to, but the relief to the
sinuses is immediate. Developed for use by sherman in the North
Sea by an English pharmacist James Lofthouse, Fisherman’s Friend is
a quintessentially English product, not available outside the UK
until 1974. Even today, only one avor, “Extra Strong Original” is
commonly available in the US. I hope someday to try the black
currant avor, which is only available in the UK, since apparently
Americans have never heard of currants.
Brioschi (pronounced bree-ah-skee) was once an iconic product in
America, although now primarily forgotten. ese italian eerves-
cent bicarbonate of soda crystals were the predecessor to Alka-Seltzer
and were the the standard hangover cure during the roaring 20’s.
“Why don’t you take a Bree-oski!” became a catch phrase for address-
ing someone that appeared out-of-sorts. Invented originally in 1880
by an Achille Antonio Brioschi, the product was originally intended
solely as a way to carbonate water and make a cheap mineral water
substitute. e antacid properties made it popular as a cure for sour
stomach, and soon the dark blue jar of Brioschi crystals became
commonplace in medicine chests across the world. Later , other
bi-carb products like Bromo-Seltzer (which recently went out of
business) and Alka-Seltzer added other ingredients like aspirin,
acetaminophen and others, and the simple formula of Brioschi fell
out of favor. Brioschi appears to be increasing it’s marketing again in
the US, and once again the simple, gentle cure is becoming
commonly available.
Yin Chiao is a common Chinese formulation that has been used for
hundreds of years to stave o colds and u. I rst became aware of it
when it was recommended to me by a pharmacist in a Chinatown
drugstore many years ago, and I have used it ever since. ere are
many brands available, but I’ve personally had the best experience
with the Chinese brand TianJin and the American made Yin Chiao
from Dr. Shen in Berkeley, California. TianJin Yin Chiao tablets
come stacked in small glass vials with a cork stopper sealed with wax,
and the labels are written in a mixture of english and chinese.
Although this adds to the mystique of the product, I have read
articles which suggest that some chinese patent medicines contain
steroids and other ingredients not listed on the label. I have not read
anything specically about TaiJin, but personally I am more
comfortable with the American made Dr. Shen product.
e traditional ingredients include honeysuckle , forsythia, balloon
ower, peppermint, burdock, crested grass, schizonepeta, and licorice
root, and it is said to “disperses wind heat, clears the head and eyes,
benets the throat, detoxify re poison, release the exterior, lessen
irritability, relieve thirst, tonify the spleen and benets the Qi.” All I
know is, that when I feel a cold coming on I take it, and usually the
cold is gone in 24 hours.
PATENT
MEDICINES:
THE OLD ONES
STILL WORK
In recent years, I’ve vacillated between treating minor discomforts with either a) the latest
over the counter wonder drug and b) over-priced natural cures. Of course, there are end-
less home remedies, teas and tinctures that can provide efective relief to minor ailments
and discomfort, but often these are not terribly portable. It’s hard to prepare a tea or
plaster on a construction site, in the car or at the ofce.
Tere are some older patent medicines on the market, though, that I have found to
be extremely efective, easy to use and relatively cheap. Often, the ingredients in these
old-school medicines are closer to natural formulations, since the early pharmaceutical
industry relied heavily on medicinal plants to synthesize their products. Te most obvious
example of this is Aspirin (salicylic acid), which Bayer synthesized originally from willow
bark. Some readers may be young enough to have never taken plain aspirin, but it is one
of the cheapest and most efective analgesic, anti-infammatory pain relievers and fever
reducing medications available.
Fisherman’s Friend is another old-time patent medicine that remains unchanged
since it’s invention in 1865. Sold in a simple paper packet or re-usable Altoids-type tin
box, these crude, grayish-brown lozenges are a jolting mixture of menthol, eucalyp-
tus, capsicum and licorice. Te favor takes some getting used to, but the relief to the
sinuses is immediate. Developed for use by fsherman in the North Sea by an English
pharmacist James Lofthouse, Fisherman’s Friend is a quintessentially English product,
not available outside the UK until 1974. Even today, only one favor, “Extra Strong
Original” is commonly available in the US. I hope someday to try the black currant
favor, which is only available in the UK, since apparently Americans have never heard
of currants.
Brioschi (pronounced bree-ah-skee) was once an iconic product in America, although
now primarily forgotten. Tese italian efervescent bicarbonate of soda crystals were
the predecessor to Alka-Seltzer and were the the standard hangover cure during the
roaring 20’s. “Why don’t you take a Bree-oski!” became a catch phrase for addressing
someone that appeared out-of-sorts. Invented originally in 1880 by an Achille Antonio
Brioschi, the product was originally intended solely as a way to carbonate water and
make a cheap mineral water substitute. Te antacid properties made it popular as a cure
for sour stomach, and soon the dark blue jar of Brioschi crystals became commonplace
in medicine chests across the world. Later , other bi-carb products like Bromo-Seltzer
(which recently went out of business) and Alka-Seltzer added other ingredients like
aspirin, acetaminophen and others, and the simple formula of Brioschi fell out of favor.
Brioschi appears to be increasing it’s marketing again in the US, and once again the
simple, gentle cure is becoming commonly available.
Yin Chiao is a common Chinese formulation that has been used for hundreds of years
to stave of colds and fu. I frst became aware of it when it was recommended to me by
a pharmacist in a Chinatown drugstore many years ago, and I have used it ever since.
Tere are many brands available, but I’ve personally had the best experience with the
Chinese brand TianJin and the American made Yin Chiao from Dr. Shen in Berke-
ley, California. TianJin Yin Chiao tablets come stacked in small glass vials with a cork
stopper sealed with wax, and the labels are written in a mixture of english and chinese.
Although this adds to the mystique of the product, I have read articles which suggest
that some chinese patent medicines contain steroids and other ingredients not listed on
the label. I have not read anything specifcally about TaiJin, but personally I am more
comfortable with the American made Dr. Shen product.
Te traditional ingredients include honeysuckle , forsythia, balloon fower, peppermint,
burdock, crested grass, schizonepeta, and licorice root, and it is said to “disperses wind
heat, clears the head and eyes, benefts the throat, detoxify fre poison, release the exte-
rior, lessen irritability, relieve thirst, tonify the spleen and benefts the Qi.” All I know
is, that when I feel a cold coming on I take it, and usually the cold is gone in 24 hours.
Karim Hetherington
Juan, having received some fame in Mexico for his role as a lead Stranger, wrote this editorial
in a major Mexico City daily and it was reprinted in several international papers, including
the London Times.
So now the Strangers are heroes, as they should be. Branko and I have been vindicated, and
Branko is taking it one step further. He is trying to save those poor kids from the murder
charge. He is trying to nail down the murderer of Te American Reporter. And it will prob-
ably work. A couple of those swine who put us into prison will probably be punished, or at
least they will have headaches for a while—but nothing will ever bring back how we were
hurt, ruined almost.
And if it wasn’t for that, it is all very funny how these people that knew all of this all along
are now attacking each other. And me? I am in Mexico. So when I saw what was happening I
knew I had to help. What do I know? I don’t know what I know, but I will say it. I like this.
Tey all lie, so maybe I say what I say, and maybe it’s the truth. Do I care? Yes, I care so much
for the truth that I do not care how the corrupt get punished. But I think it is all BS. In the
end, nothing will change.
Tis corruption is with us. And for this minute, a few people care, and something maybe will
change for Amanda and Rafaele, but you know the same people or the same kind of people
will be running the system. It is a glorious day for the Strangers, but I am more than a little
sad—you understand? It is like the question about who you are. Who we are. We have to look
in the mirror in the morning or before we go to bed or whenever.
I cannot understand how people live with themselves, or do not use this test. Maybe there
is this big hallucination where people look in the mirror and see something other than the
truth. I say, how can you not see it, asshole? How can you not see yourself for who you are
and what you have done to others—and to yourself? I ask these things, and I think everyone
sees a billboard that is a commercial for themselves.
So there is no truth. Maybe there never was, and we made up these lies about ourselves in
history. Does this make sense? You think maybe I am crazy? I don’t care what anyone thinks
anymore—I am dead to that.
And maybe I am like these people I hate, that are bad, and I have my own hallucination. I
don’t know what I am talking about. But I do. Tis Stranger crap will not change history or
the world, but if the Strangers pass this down to the next and the next, and maybe then some-
thing will happen, or maybe not, and maybe some Amanda and Rafaele will be saved. I don’t
know. But you ask me, was it worth it for Branko and me? I cannot speak for Branko, but for
me, I say no. I never want to go through this pain again. I have lost time with my children.
Tey are true. Teir love is unconditional. When this is done, who will care?
I don’t know. We try. And that is all. We are fools maybe, probably. I am not fying in a
private jet. Tey are, and I am where?
13
I came to discover Dave Gingery’s work in an odd, roundabout way.
Back in the dark ages before the World Wide Web (1988, to be pre-
cise), Ivan Stang of the Church of the Subgenius published a
book called “High Weirdness by Mail”. It was a clear-
inghouse of odd information that could be had for free
(or the price of a self-addressed, stamped envelop) that
covered everything from UFO abductees and oddball
churches to how to build your own hovercraft. Along
with the craziness that fowed into my mailbox
after sending of for a few things, I received a
copy of the Lindsay’s Technical Books catalog,
and my eyes were opened to the wonderful
world of arcane technical manuals that Lind-
say ofered (and still ofers).
As an artist and builder (what is now more
fashionably referred to as a “maker”) I was
fascinated by the reprints of old machine
shop manuals, books on steam engines, in-
structions for do-it-yourself Tesla coils and
so much more. Te catalog itself is written
in a very funny, down-home style and is
great bathroom reading, even if you never
order a book (oh, but you will...)
Te catalog showcased the series Build Your
Own Metalworking Shop from Scrap by Dave Gingery, whose books were among Linsday’s
best selling titles. I ordered the frst of the series, “Te Charcoal Foundry” and built a very
functional small sand casting foundry in my tiny back yard in Brooklyn. Te series consists
of seven books, each building on the work done in the previous book. Te charcoal foundry
is used to cast parts for the metal lathe in book #2, then a metal shaper in
#3, and so on. Instructions for building a milling machine, drill press,
dividing head and sheet metal brake round out the series.
As the years passed and the Gingery publishing empire grew,
the Gingery catalog expanded to include books on green sand
casting, Atkinson engine building a coil-winding. Dave’s
son Vince followed in his father’s footsteps and au-
thored books on building an alcohol still, injection
moulding machines, vacuum forming machines
and more. Later, in his retirement, Dave took up
playing the banjo, and legend has it, he even
planned to run for President. Photos of Dave
show him, more often than not, smiling and
laughing. He seemed to be a guy who loved
what he did, and did what he loved.
Dave Gingery died in 2004, but Vince
keeps the family tradition alive, sell-
ing all of the Gingery titles through
http://www.gingerybooks.com/. In a
time when open source, DIY informa-
tion is readily available through web-
sites like Makezine and Instructables,
there is something wonderfully timeless
about the Gingery books. Te tough little
paperbacks are made to be dragged out to
the shop, have the corners turned down, and
have the pages smudged with the dirt of real hands-on experimentation.
Tere is an earnestness and humor to the Gingery books that is lacking in much of the cur-
rent DIY movement. Te projects presented are the result of hours of scrounging and experi-
mentation, not countless google searches and multiple trips to radio shack. Te blue-collar
approach is a refreshing alternative to the upscale hipster attitude that occasionally comes
along with the “Maker” movement. In the introduction to the new hardcover collection of the
Metal Working Shop series, Dave Gingery opens by saying, “Most of my life was spent in try-
ing to fgure out how to do a $50.00 project for 50 cents, and the remainder of my time was
spent in trying to scrounge up the 50 cents.”
Te “Can Do” attitude is infectious. Later in the introduction, Gingery states: “Tat lack of
cash that presents itself as an obstacle is really only the medium of exchange for those items
of material and equipment we think we need. Actually, a whole list of apparent obstacles
holds us back, but the lack of ready cash is the easiest obstacle to recognize and to discuss. As
a result there is often too much discussion and too little practical work done. What is really
needed is to put the whole matter into perspective so that apparent obstacles can be put aside
and we can get on with the business at hand...
...Since the whole problem is really a matter of determining the diference between what we
think we need and what we really need, the frst step is to reduce the technology. You will
remember from your arithmetic lessons that they tried to teach you to reduce a fraction to its
lowest common denominator and to reduce an equation to simple terms. Tis is much like
what must be done to the problem at hand, and it is in itself a delightful exercise.”
Vince was kind enough to take the time to talk with OBSOLETE! about his dad, his own
work and the evolution of Gingery publications.
OBSOLETE!: I know your dad was born in Michigan, but anything about his childhood or
younger life that would explain his obsession with building tools?
VINCE: As I think about it, there really was nothing specifc from Dad’s early childhood
or early life other than we were poor. Tough circumstance may have played a role since his
generation might have been more self sufcient than that of today. For instance, Dad never
took his cars in to have them worked on. Te money wasn’t there. If you wanted a car, you
fgured out a way to keep it running on your own. He always drove old clunkers. As a
result, he became a self
taught auto mechanic
and earned a living
in the trade for
several years. Ten
there was the frst house
he bought. It was
in horrible condi-
tion. I have pictures
of it somewhere. He
remodeled it on his own
and turned it into show
place. During
the process
he accumu-
lated enough
knowledge to
earn a living
in the home
maintenance and
repair feld for a
while.
When Dad decided to learn
the sheet metal trade, he didn’t
go to school and get a degree.
He got books on the subject and
taught himself. Tis involved laying out and making com-
plicated duct work transitions. He practiced by frst making them from paper. I remember
it well. As a small boy I was fascinated by the really cool paper models he made. I sometimes
wonder what happened to them. At any rate, it wasn’t long before he was an expert in the
sheet metal trade. It was in those years that he build his frst portable sheet metal brake. Who
knew that twenty years later he would write a book on how to build one.
For Dad, going to the store for parts and materials was a last option. On more than one oc-
casion his comments would be. . . “If you can make it yourself, why buy it?” “And let’s check
the scrap pile frst.” It was his mindset. And that’s where his knowledge came from. It was a
gradual accumulation. Sure you can buy it, but anyone can do that. But if you take the time
to make it yourself you have power. Why? Because as you fgure out how to do it yourself,
you accumulate knowledge, and knowledge is power!
Another favorite quote from Dad was; “You can know what others know, and you can do
what they do”. In other words, all things are possible to those with the desire. But do we have
that desire? Are we willing to take the frst step? And are we willing to make the sacrifce?
Tom Lindsay from Lindsay Publications refers to two types of people, the dreamers and the
doers. Dad was a doer. He was willing to make the sacrifce.
Dad knew that the key to utilizing the gift of life was not a college degree or formal training.
It involved the desire and determination to make it happen. And that is what he tried to im-
press on me. I am proud to say that there are many more just like him. I know this because
we get encouraging letters and project photos from them all the time. Tey appreciate the
gift of life and what it ofers and they are determined to make something of themselves be-
cause of it. I fnd that encouraging because as long as there are people like that in the world,
we can have hope for the future.
As for being obsessed with machine tools... I don’t think Dad was obsessed with them and
neither am I. But rather we are determined and driven to make things happen on our own.
Not just with machine tools, but in life. If you wait around for someone else to make it hap-
pen for you, it’s not going to happen.
OBSOLETE!: It strikes me that what your dad and you do is kind of the ultimate “green”
lifestyle. More so than driving a hybrid car and buying expensive green products with high
“post-consumer recycled content”. You guys cut out the middle man and do the recycling
yourselves. Did you all ever talk about the environmental aspect of what you do?
VINCE: We never really talked about the environmental aspect of our projects. It was
KingsofScrap:
How Gingery Publications pioneered the “Open Source Hardware” Movement
What is Open Source Hardware?
“Open source” is a term that comes from the world of computers- it refers to software whose
source code is openly shared among programers in order to work collaboratively toward im-
proving the end product. Linux, the open source operating system, is the most famous example.
More recently, the term “open source” has been used to refer not only to software, but to
anything that is openly shared without copyright or proprietary ownership. It’s not really a new
idea, though. Since the beginning of time, humans have shared designs, worked together to
improve them, and made their own modifcations in order to make the tools at hand work to
meet their own specifc needs.
More recently, the term “open source” has been used to refer not only to software, but to any-
thing that is openly shared without proprietary ownership. Gingery Publications has practiced
this time-honored tradition for years. Teir designs were “open source” long before the term
was coined, and although the material in their books is copyrighted, they encourage people to
build their projects, improve the designs and discuss them at length.
Te Gingery’s, and more recently Instructables.com are two examples of successful “open
source” development where putting the shared wealth of information before the the acquisition
of personal wealth has beneftted both the users and the developers.
In the August 2008 issue of Wired magazine, Clive Tompson wrote: “Right now, open design
pioneers tend to follow one of two economic models. Te frst is not to worry about selling
much hardware but instead to sell your expertise as the inventor. If anyone can manufacture
a device, then the most efcient manufacturer will do so at the best price. Fine, let them. It’ll
ensure your contraption is widely distributed. Because you’re the inventor, though, the commu-
nity of users will inevitably congregate around you, much as (Linus) Torvalds was the hub for
Linux...Ten there’s the second model for making money of open source hardware: Sell your
device but try to keep ahead of the competition. Tis isn’t as hard as it seems.”
Is open source hardware the key to a new American manufacturing economy? Some think so.
It was certainly the key to the development of our early technologies, and the dynamic environ-
ment pushed development. It looks more and more like current copyright laws are hindering
that type of “healthy competition”.
As Woodie Guthrie once wrote- concerning the copyright of his song “Tis land is your land”-
“Tis song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years,
and anybody caught singin’ it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn,
cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it,
that’s all we wanted to do.” 14
Metal Working Shop:
The Complete Hardbound Edition
According to Vince Gingery: “Te hard bound edition of the Metal Working Shop
series was a project that had been on the back burner for a number of years. Te
initial timeline for the project was set at six months, but it ended up taking two years.
864 pages and hundreds of drawings is a rather large undertaking. Te drawings were
redone, photos enhanced and the text updated. I am very happy with the fnished
product and I know Dad would approve. So happy in fact, that if we hadn’t sold a
single copy, I would still have been glad I tackled the project.”
Te new, hardbound collection of all seven original Metal Working Shop books by
Dave Gingery is a defnitive textbook and a must-have for shop monkeys everywhere.
Even if you don’t plan on building all of the
tools, the book is fun to read, and gives the
reader a deeper understanding of the process
of how tools are designed and made. If you
do plan to build any or all of the tools, the
new volume has clearer images and better dia-
grams than the originals, and extra content.
For a limited time, the book comes with a
fantastic DVD with lots of footage of Dave in
his natural habitat.
“Including the Sand Casting DVD with the
book was an afterthought, but it does go well
with the book. And I thought people would
enjoy the opportunity of getting to know
Dad. Of course the DVD is a limited time
bonus ofering. At some point it will no lon-
ger be included with the book.” says Vince.
Te book can be found at: http://www.gin-
gerybooks.com/.
always about self reliance with an eye toward utilizing what was readily available, and most
economical. In Dad’s case, frugal might be a better description. He made the best use of what
he had on hand while spending the least amount of money possible. Of course anytime you
recycle or utilize something destined for a landfll you afect the environment in a positive
way. So in a sense, we could be considered environmentalists.
OBSOLETE: How do you feel about the current “maker” trend?
VINCE: I am aware of the “Maker Movement”, and Make magazine. It’s a great movement
and their online magazine ofers a lot of encouragement. Te way they approach the concept
seems to have wide appeal, especially for the younger generation, and I think that is great!
OBSOLETE!: Finally- you are no slouch yourself when it comes to DIY books. I have used
your still book in ethanol experiments, and your injection molding book is quoted a lot on
the web. How do you plan to carry the tradition forward, do you have any new books in the
works, and can you share a little more bio information on yourself?
VINCE: I was a typical kid. As a young adult I was a workaholic holding two and sometimes
three jobs at a time. Ten in my mid 30’s circumstances changed and I had an opportunity to
spend a couple of months with Dad. We did some traveling
together, and we worked together in the shop. My
frst project involved Dad helping me build a two
cylinder Stirling cycle engine. Tat engine,
the frst engine I built, is the one shown
in the video clip on our web
site. From that point on I
was hooked and began as-
sembling my own work shop.
During the process I built a power
hacksaw and soon after wrote
a book on the project. Slip
roll followed. Next was the
alcohol still. Not a machine
tool project, but something
I had always been interested
in. And what a fun and
exciting project that
turned out to be! To
be able to start from
nothing and end up
with 190 proof alcohol
is simply amazing. Over
the years a number of other proj-
ects have followed.
Te past couple of years have been
spent updating what we have, especially the seven book
series. And the world continues to evolve so now we are in the process of converting our titles
into eBooks. Charcoal Foundry is available in .mobi format already and other titles should
soon follow.
All this takes time.
As a result the last
couple of years
were spent on the
computer and
probably the next
few months will be
as well. But I can’t
wait to get back in
the shop and do
what I love most.
Tere are projects
on the back burner
and I am looking
forward to getting
started on the next
one.
post-beat, pre-apocalyptic ART, WRITING, MUSIC and WHAT-NOT
www.sensitiveskinmagazine.com
hwww.catnipfarm.comh
Your source for excellent organic catnip, kitty greens/pet grass
YYY and other good stuff for pets and people! YYY
hGOT GRASS? h
15
On July 24th of last year, the dam on the Maquoketa River failed, causing
another round of devastation for the ood weary residents of the Midwest.
e dam, an embankment dam known as Hartwick Dam, was completed in
1929, and was built to generate hydroelectric power, but mostly to create
Lake Delhi. e reasons for the dam’s failure are numerous; already weak-
ened by the oods of 2008, the dam was unable to cope with a swollen
Maquoketa River with an additional 10” rainfall in a twelve-hour period.
My father and his wife live near the former Lake Delhi; their house is
downstream, but elevated suciently to have been spared direct impact from
the wall of water that surged through the valley. My dad’s neighbors, who
live down the hill, and closer to the river, were not so lucky. I was in Iowa
this fall, and had a chance to survey the destruction. Little had changed in
the time that’s passed since the ood, including the homes that were
destroyed – personal belongings and upended houses were all still just as the
oodwaters had left them. ese photos document some of what I saw that
day.
As I walked through the debris and the remains of ruined lives, I thought
about the dam failure, and realized that, sadly, it’s really just the tip of an
enormous iceberg. is country’s infrastructure is crumbling, and these
disasters are becoming more frequent – and more severe. e world watched
in shock as New Orleans went under water, and then again as our govern-
ment response proved as inadequate as the levies that failed that great city.
e nation’s power grid is dangerously old and inecient, as evidenced by
periodic blackouts and rolling brownouts. irteen people died when the
I35 Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, with hundreds of other bridges in dire
need of repair or replacement. Gas lines and water mains leak or burst,
endangering lives and the safety of US citizens – because we have foolishly
opted to no longer invest in our own future.
Since the Reagan years, smooth talking politicians have sold voters a bill of
goods, with promises of cut taxes, and happy talk of a great nation. As we’ve
recently seen, taxes that have been cut are notoriously dicult to restore, and
money for services is increasingly scarce. My hope is that people may nally
begin to grasp the connection between the taxes that they pay, and the
services that they often take for granted, but I’m not overly optimistic.
When I worked at the CR Public Library, an elderly couple was among the
many very regular users of the library; this couple often came to the library
to sit for hours to read the daily newspaper. One day, after a municipal
election had been held, this same couple announced loudly, and proudly,
that they ALWAYS vote against bond issues and funding requests – the type
that provide the sort of services they were currently and regularly using.
While I still marvel at the irony of it all, I’ve also since wondered how they
thought the library was able to buy the newspaper, light the building, and
pay sta? I suspect that they, like many, gave the matter little thought.
Until voters connect the dots between the taxes they pay, and the services
those taxes fund, we are likely to see the country continue to crumble before
our eyes. ere is a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. making the
rounds on the web: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization." ey are
also a responsible and wise investment in our own future. An era of
unmatched greed and selshness has nearly wrecked this country; to
continue on this path is a clear indication that we have lost our way – and
our sanity. e OWS movement gives me hope that our society may yet
wake from its apathetic slumber in time to recognize ‘trickle down econom-
ics’ for the Faustian deal that it is.
Chris Schipper is a godless
heathen living in deeply
conservative Jeeeeeezus
land, in the geographi-
cally stunning Four
Corners region of New
Mexico, where some of
the more visible residents
are gun nuts who drive
massive monster truck vehicles. Chris was born
and raised in Eastern Iowa, and counts Cedar
Rapids and Iowa City among his past homes.
Chris moved to NM in 2006 with his partner of
then nine years, and with Emma the cat. In 2009,
he and partner traveled back to progressive Iowa to
be married (Emma stayed in NM). e couple
now also shares their home with kitties Buster, and
Max. Chris is the director of the library at San
Juan College – a position he’s ocially held for
more than a year. Chris enjoys hiking, photogra-
phy, gardening, and frequent trips to also enjoy
more urban amenities.
16
The Cipher Conundrum
The warĥmaking wing oI the Cadenbury Institute was shrouded in secrecy.
Many oI the scientists who occupied the vast complex oI labs and oIIices had never
set Ioot inside this part oI the establishment. Arvel was surprised as Silas rushed him
through every checkpoint and down a series oI long hallways that ended at a large
elevator. They rode in silence, descending deep into the bowels oI Silas' domain. The
carriage Iinally came to a halt, and the door slid open, revealing another long, dimly
lit hallway.
º\here are we going:" Arvel inquired.
Silas gestured toward the open door. ºAIter you."
The hallway ended in Iront oI a heavily IortiIied door. Silas opened a cabinet
and removed two pairs oI tinted goggles.
ºPut these on," he instructed as he depressed a button beside the door. \ith
a loud clank, an internal bolt drew back, and the door slid open.
They entered a cavernous, rockĥhewn room. There was just enough light Ior
Arvel to make out an enormous glass dome. As they drew closer, he strained to see
what the glass shielded. He saw nothing but a seemingly bottomless pit. Around the
dome, towers oI elaborate machines were manned by crews oI scientists. They
appeared to be working under close guard by men wearing the uniIorm oI the
Promacheon, Cemaria's military body.
º\hat is this:" Arvel asked.
Silas gestured to the operator at the closest station. ºShow him."
The man obliged, turning a set oI valves that released a concoction oI gases
into the dome. In seconds, the interior came alive with an array oI colorIul streaks
that vibrated and danced in oscillating patterns.
Arvel drew a sharp breath. ºThe cosmocrene."
º\hen it comes to understanding the Iorces oI nature, you have no clue,"
Silas swaggered. ºThe Zephyr Project is nothing compared to the ultimate power that
can be wielded at this magnitude."
A strange Ioreboding struck Arvel. He Ielt as though he had just stepped into
the sight oI a killer. As he watched, the vibrations in the dome began to mirror every
Iluctuation oI his thoughts and emotions.
There was a brieI silence beIore Arvel asked, º\hat power do you speak oI:"
ºThe Promacheon discovered that the cosmocrene had many promising
characteristics. \hile your team at Cadenbury dedicated itselI to the Zephyr Project,
the Promacheon worked in a diIIerent direction. You are aware that energy exists in
many dimensions. \e explored one known as the lambdic grid and learned to
transmit phemai."
ºPhemai:"
ºMessages encoded by a series oI pulses or Irequencies, as unique as your
soul." Silas led the way to another station Iarther around the dome. ºThe diIIerence is
that Irequencies can be parsed and controlled. Lxplain the Cipher Program," Silas
ordered the pallid man at the controls. Arvel could see that the poor Iellow hadn't
spent time above ground lately.
ºIt is rudimentary," the man replied. ºCipher creates a pheme, which is sent
along the cosmocrene's lambdic grid. The pheme travels to a similar piece oI equipĥ
ment, located at a remote station, that receives and decodes the inIormation. The
team on the other end can then transmit a reply through the same process."
ºYou can Iollow the location oI a pheme as it travels:" Arvel asked.
The man nodded and turned back to his work. Something in his eyes struck
Arvel. He stepped closer, attuned to the scientist's thoughts. A single word pierced
the surIace oI the man's consciousness: trapped.
Something was wrong. The scientists in this laboratory were nothing more than
prisoners oI the Promacheon, and Arvel might soon become one oI them.
ºSilas, my only concern is my daughter's saIety. How does this relate to the
Monarch:"
ºThe Monarch was chosen to test a mobile prototype oI the instrument, we
hadn't attempted its operation at sea yet."
ºThat is how you knew there was a storm," Arvel concluded.
ºYes, but contact was lost when the vessel sank."
The scientist looked up Irom his controls. ºII the Monarch’s course was
changed, it is possible that we lost track oI her position on the grid."
ºCan you relocate it:" Arvel asked.
Silas cocked his head. ºMaybe. \se the cosmocrene to search Ior your
daughter."
Arvel turned to look at the dome. The display oI raw power inside was
beautiIul, but he knew it could be lethal.
ºMr. Harp, that is not permitted by our protocols," the scientist interjected.
ºBut you see, Mr. Thornton is a living pheme," Silas mocked. ºII he projects
himselI into the Iield to search Ior Ivey's soul, it might reveal their position on the
grid. Isn't that right, Arvel:"
Arvel was alarmed that Silas grasped enough oI the concept to make such a
proposal. ºI will do anything to help my daughter," he Iervently responded.
ºLxcuse me," the scientist rose to his Ieet. ºI must speak with you privately,
Mr. Harp." Silas Iollowed him a short distance away, and Arvel observed a heated
exchange. He could not make out their words, but it was obvious that the man had
severe objections to his overseer's proposition. Silas was adamant, and when they
returned, the man sat down at the controls with an air oI resignation.
ºMr. Thornton, I do not know what to expect Irom this. II anything goes
awry, disengage."
ºTime is escaping." Silas gave the man a look oI warning beIore turning back
to Arvel. ºYour daughter's liIe rides on this."
Arvel let his body relax as he turned inward. ColorIul streaks oI gas
beneath the dome started swirling hypnotically.
He was adriIt in a void. Far away, a tiny pinpoint oI light was moving
toward him. As it neared, he Ielt something immense bearing down on him at
blinding speed. A psychic wave broke over him. Bits and pieces oI his childhood
memories tangled with past adventures and poignant moments with his Iamily.
Arvel Iought to keep his Iocus on Ivey. He reached out Ior her with all his heart.
Through the wall oI images whirling around him, he saw her. She was
on a docking platIorm, nervously scanning the crowd as it boarded the Monarch.
ºIvey!"
She turned in surprise.
ºCan you hear me:"
A shadow crossed her Iace. He Iollowed her as she Iell into a spinning
tunnel oI darkness, trying to catch her as she ran Ior her liIe.
ºIvey, wait Ior me!" He heard her terriIied panting in the darkness.
º\ho are you:"
ºIt is Father," Arvel tried to explain. ºI have to Iind you."
ºCo to hell," she snarled.
\nable to recognize him, Ivey raced on. Þo matter how swiItly Arvel
pursued, she stayed several paces ahead. He was closing in on her when a light
blinded him.
Once his eyes adjusted, he saw her again. She had pulled back the
drapes, Ilooding a devastated room on board the Monarch with the light oI day.
Ivey leaned against the window, trembling. It pained Arvel's heart to see his
daughter so vulnerable and Irightened.
ºIvey, please let me help you."
She sensed his presence, but it only heightened her anxiety. She started
Ior the door.
ºIvey, do not leave."
She slowly turned, a look oI dread on her Iace.
ºLo not be aIraid." Arvel reached out Ior her. ºCome to me." Her hand
began to driIt toward his. BeIore their Iingers could touch, the room vanished,
and Arvel Iound himselI beneath the glass dome. He looked up through the
Iiery gases and saw Ivey descending toward him. She was dressed in a blue gown
and emblazoned against a halo oI auburn hair. Resplendent tendrils oI energy
Ilickered up Irom the cosmocrene, inviting her to come closer.
ºI understand now. I want to go home."
ºShow me your light," Arvel commanded.
Ivey threw her arms open, and radiation enveloped her body. Her skin
glowed with the vitality oI youth, and the beating oI her heart reverberated
inside the dome. They made contact. He hoped the scientists were registering
all oI it on their equipment.
Something happened in the cosmocrene. The beautiIul waves became
dark and tempestuous, and the sound oI Ivey's heartbeat grew louder and louder
until it pounded like a colossal war drum. The Iilaments oI energy blackened,
staining her gown as they coiled around the Iabric. Arvel watched his daughter
struggle like a moth caught in an unyielding web. ºI can set you Iree. Break the
barrier that separates us."
But Arvel hadn't spoken. He was back outside the dome, looking in as a
perIect doppelgänger oI himselI beckoned to Ivey. The phantom gave Arvel a
malicious smile. Turning back to Ivey, the entity coaxed, ºCome to your Iather,
and we will be together Iorever."
Arvel's mind reeled. Something had come Irom the cosmocrene to steal
his daughter's liIe.
ºIvey! Co back! It is a trick!" Arvel hammered his Iists against the glass,
trying to warn her away.
The Ialse double glared up at him. ºYour debt is due."
ºIvey! Fight him. I will Iind you!" he cried in horror as a gnarled limb
rose up Irom the tarry depths to drag his daughter's body into the pit.
As her Iace disappeared beneath the mire, he heard a coarse whisper:
ºLet her go."
ºÞo! I can't!"
ºMr. Thornton!" The pale scientist shook him by the shoulders. Arvel
was back in the subterranean laboratory. ºThe dome will shatter. Lisengage!" An
ominous pounding reverberated through the cavern, as iI a colossal being were
smashing its way through the rock beneath his Ieet. The scientists shouted
above the din and Irantically worked their stations. The agents were gathered
near a crack in the dome that was creeping toward where Arvel had been
standing.
º\hat is that:" Arvel panted.
ºLock it down!" the scientist yelled as he propelled Arvel in the
direction oI the exit. ºCet out!"
ºMy daughter . . . she was here," Arvel resisted, trying to peer around
the man to see what was happening and to look Ior Silas.
ºTake this." The man shoved a slip oI paper with hastily scrawled
coordinates into Arvel's hands. ºII you want to save her, run!"
º\hat have you begun here:" Arvel bellowed as he turned to leave.
ºForget everything, or they will make you pay," the man warned. He
went back to his station. The large metal door was about to seal the room. Arvel
raced toward the shrinking opening and leapt through, a moment beIore it
barreled into place.
An excerpt from
Cheryl Ammeter’s
VHOIĦSXEOLVKHGQHZQRYHO
$YDLODEOHRQ$PD]RQFRP
and at Aethersedge.com.
Chapter 20
for more info
www.aethersedge.com
Cheryl Ammeter is best known
as an awardĥwinning script
writer Ior seven seasons oI the
globally acclaimed children's
program, Barney & Friends,
and as one oI the original
writers Ior Radio Lisney.
Ivey and the Airship is the Iirst
in the Aether's Ldge series.
Cheryl is currently at work on book two,
Master oI the Manor.
17
Walter studied art, theater and writing at the University of Iowa, Te University of Northern Iowa and
the University of Oregon. He has written three screenplays, a memoir and a collection of short stories. He
currently teach art at Kirkwood Community College and write grant proposals for a non-proft. “Quasar
Gets a Car” is his frst published story.
Like greasy spoons everywhere, you can tell the comers from the goers by the way they mingle
during the breakfast rush. Comers, time-tested patrons, brace themselves like cosmic travelers fall-
ing through space on reentry to the world and the land of the living. All others, the goers, position
themselves opposite the chrome and glass like time-sharing tourists in need of reassurance that
they are, in fact, where they are. Uncertain, they tend to order things that don’t exist and bag the
rest.
Grease glistening on the farmer’s shredded hash brown brow. Te spittle on the griddle gurgling
under busty golden yolks ready to burst. And spitting links spurting like little dicks hot for the
fork. A bottomless cup of Chthonic tonic to wash it all down. Good to the last drop.

We comers are pilots in solidarity; urban satellites of steel creating random havoc, forever orbiting
some misbegotten summabitch.
Speaking of summabitches, nobody knows Quasar’s real name and, word is, his family is dead.
More refugee than vet, we conjecture. Same time. Same country. Diferent war. Maybe it all
started in Nam where the quick sand seeps through your skin. Maybe he tripped on one too many
two-step vipers—one will always be too many over there. Tiger traps and tar pits. Some say that
he is a Tai Chi master and can kill a man with one fnger. If he touched your chest, your heart
would explode. No. Fucking. Shit. He thinks he’s invincible like a superhero. He looks at you like
that sometimes, arms fapping as he walks by. Up up and away!
Quasar may very well be the last true pedestrian in the world. Bugger gets around. He knows
how to navigate the vehicular winds that blow through town by weaving between Galaxies and
Windstars like a solar surfer. Quite a sight to see. He falls through trafc like an accident in slow
motion, arms and legs everywhere, silhouetted against azure skies. Frozen like a demented snow
angel.

But he never so much as bends a fender.
Whatever happened, he minds his own business. Everyone has a theory, of course. Some say that
he’s a vet from the U.S. of A’s blown gambit in Southeast Asia. Tat explains the army jacket. But
lots of people wear army surplus, so what? It’s art-punk chic: olive drab, post-hippy cartoons with
buttons. More us than him. Quasar is apolitical. Like the song goes -
Te telephone’s ringin’
Tey told me it was Chairman Mao
Te telephone’s ringin’
Tey told me it was Chairman Mao
Well I don’t care who it is
I just don’t want talk to him now.
So what say you questionable mini-man, tiny mass of humanity? You have journeyed so
far. We want to throw ourselves into the street with you to stop this endless cycling into
oblivion. We see their beady eyes too: peeking through tinted glass, beneath visors, laughing,
crying, yelling, grimacing, sometimes even dying behind the wheel. And they just can’t stop
looking. Tey say things we can’t hear and are not to be trusted. All oncoming trafc poses a
threat to us and our passengers. We brace ourselves against all of it. We wait for the moment
before collision, before we become, like you, a tableau of crumpled legs, wings and ruptured
thoraxes on a windshield.
Autumn leaves wiggle. All will fall eventually.
Tere’s a girl who lives next door to you. From her
bedroom window she can see your silhouette through
the drapes. You pace a lot; everything failing like a Ba-
linese shadow puppet. In the summer, windows open,
she can hear you mumbling to yourself. Sometimes
you make sounds like a deranged squirrel. WONK!
DONK! CHONK!
You live next door to that guy? People ask. What’s he
like?
He barks like a mad squirrel is what!
Ten one night like the other nights, a man comes over
to her house. Tey embrace as the moon casts light
through the twisted blinds of their smoky little love nest.
Tey’re ravenous so they devour cold meatloaf then play Don’t
Drop the Soap on the kitchen foor. Tey yell stop! and put it in
overdrive. Tey squeal oh yes! and put the hammer to the foor.

Unlike the other nights, the man wants to be a spy this time
around. She has front row seats. At four in the morning they open
the window, just a crack, and wait in a sticky embrace for the Quasar
borealis. Tey chutter like guinea pigs in the early morning light and
wait for the puppet show to begin. Te lights go on. Tey watch
with their fngers in each other’s junk, orbs orbiting shafts of swollen
blood sausage. O the hungers.
He blares Chinese opera and sings along: WONK! DONK! CHONK!
So what say you interstellar traveler and lost son of the Milky Way? We
hear what you are saying.
- Today is a good day to fy. I am the Tai Chi Maestro!
I can feel it building in my belly like a dynamo ready
to blow! Bolts of lightening shooting through my
fngers and toes to light up the cosmos! I am untouch-
able!
Now look what you’ve done. We’re famished. Boy
and girl scurry over moon gravel and climb aboard
their little red Saturn. As they roll out they turn
around to see you following–limbs fapping in hot
pursuit, blown forward by hot solar winds. She
wraps her arms around his neck and licks circles
around his diamond studded earlobe.
- I see me. I am center stage. Sing! Sing I say! Skylark! Tunderbird! Firebird! Sing! Tis is my
destiny!
It’s 5 a.m. by the time they reenter the atmosphere. We spot them as they arrive at the greasiest
spoon in town. Te bench below the big picture window is flled with scratchy souls waiting for
an open booth; the window ofering a clear view of the orbiting trafc like white noise against the
yellow glare of a new day. Te old guy sitting next to us wears a purple fez atop a cue ball head. His
pockets are full of hands. Awful busy down there! Poor fucked up monster; eyes spinning, running
laps around the waitresses’ navel.
Bet he’s got a big car.
All comers gravitate to each other.
A booth opens and we descend into our seats and strap ourselves in. We spread open the menu and
we’re horny all over again. Her hand sneaks under the table and tugs at his bon appetite.
Our waitress appears and chirps, “You lovers ready to order?”
Just then, Quasar foats into orbit outside, through the window, across the street, standing on the
curb arms spread wide. “Oh look my eyes,” she says. “He appears to me!”
-Super Nova! Vega Chieftain! Aurora Glorialis! I am sublime! Altima!
He wants to lift of but he seems stuck in some funky, time space continuum. Te gravity of the
curb holds him fast. Metallic meteors speeding in all directions have him trapped. Each time he at-
tempts to blast across, he must fre his retro rockets and re-curb. He faps his arms and tries again. A
horn blares. WOOOOONK! He recalibrates.
- I have arrived! I am the light! You cannot bend the light!
A red blur streaks across the window. He buckles over, slamming the hood of the Astro craft.
DONK! DONK! DONK! Quasar rises with arms outstretched like a great astral falcon.
- You cannot break the light!
He lunges forward, arms thrust skyward, about to take fight. Another sliding screech and a streak of
green fashes from the left. WONK! WONK! WONK!
A sonic blast cracks the sky and shatters our universal peace as a million feathers explode into the
stratosphere. Te feathers foat down in a cosmic blizzard of fuf, shrouding the sky, blocking all
vision, mufing all sound.
All comers stand at attention. Quasar has disappeared. Meteoric trafc has stopped. We search for
some sign of life, a glimmer, a light to shine through the bloodied dawn.
Tere is faint laughter, then a louder snicker. Hands appear to be reaching through the blood spack-
led autumn morn. It is he. We spy him falling toward us, through the feathers, frst hands, then
arms, then legs. He appears like a demented angel foating
down to us with broken wings and face aglow. He looms
ever larger and larger until he splatters against the picture
window, like we are the ones who hit him. His face is
pushed to one side. He peers at us like a man arrested
for breaking the law of gravity.
Quasar speaks. -I am here.
Te comers are stunned. Te goers uncertain.
I stand as if in a trance and walk over to him. He
eyes me like a one-eyed vulture. I lean toward
him, my body pressing against the warm glass.
I put my hand on the window. He skews a
crooked eye. Ten he raises a hand and
points a fnger at me, through the
picture window, as if to skewer my
heart. He drools a little and smiles.
My heart skips a beat. I am
speechless.
As the feathers drift and settle,
we stand and stare, one comer to
another, separated only by the
big picture window. He rubs his
face against the glass and grins
like the lunatic that he is.
Quasar peels himself of the
window and turns to greet
the masses all agog. Te
crowd parts. Te feathers
melt away. He steps onto
the street then leaps in the
air and soars in a great arc
landing at the cockpit of
a spanky green Mercury.
Te pilot exits the craft,
bows and bestows to him
the keys. Quasar takes
command of his new ship
and climbs aboard. He
straps himself in and fres up the
engine. It hums sweetly. He
adjusts his goggles and nods
at the adoring masses.
Ten, in a roar heard
throughout the
cosmos, Quasar blasts
of, never to be seen again.
Quasar Gets a Car
by Walter Sun Chien
18
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To be continued. . . . .in OBSOLETE! #6

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