“We can’t do Here’s a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares at the charity ball.“
“Mrs. Stahlberg says we can.“
“And Mr. Weinbaum says we can’t. It’ll corrupt our fellow students, I guess.“
“Let’s do My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, And I Don’t Love Jesus instead.“
“We can’t do that, either. The Gospel Choir wants to do that.“
“What are we gonna play? How about Thank Greyhound She’s Gone? Weinbaum likes that one.“
“What about You’re The Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly? Somehow it’s more fitting for a charity ball. And it’s a big hit. They all clap their hands.“
“Well, not everyone. Just the teachers.“
Gertrude & Ralph
“Gertrude, listen, we’ve been together for over sixty years now, and I’m very fond of you, and I’d like us to spend the rest of our lives together. Will you be my wife and move to my place?“
“You pulling my leg, Ralph?“
“You want to live with me?“
“That’s what I’m saying.“
“How comes ..?“
“Church, vows, new furniture, the whole bit. Separate bedrooms. So what you think?“
“What about Mr. Zanolla?“
“We don’t have to tell him. You’re a fine person, Gertrude, you …“
“Shut up. I know who I am. Which church are you taking me to?“
Babypunk am Hudson
Depressing Children Books
Elephant Babar, a strong, silent loner, finds himself unemployed when the copper mine where he works in Africa closes down. In an old Cadillac he makes his way to Europe, where he seeks shelter within the walls of an asylum for insane pets.
31 year old Kasperli still lives with his mother and father, and has not been outside the apartment for 24 years. Scared of facing life and isolated from other people – he views them only through a pair of binoculars – he is finally thrown out by his desperate father. Starves to death.
While escaping from the pear orchard, Joggeli fractures his ankle bone and is picked up by an ex-con for whom he becomes a prostitute and a thief.
A prince meets a pretty princess but hesitates to fall in love again.
Flowers in Chicago
Now girls, please, I know the ancient Chicagoans used to smash the bouquet of flowers over the bride’s head for fruitfulness and good fortune. I say there’s a time and a place for everything, but my sister’s wedding is not the place to beat people with flowers, or shove them in their faces, or do anything except admire them and pass them over. Civilization depends on us being kind to each other, and so does long-term commitment, so a wedding is a good a place as any to give up violence against people against people and flowers and start playing well with others.“
The town’s funeral fair inspires Al to take more risks with his life.
The risks include singing in public, climbing up the roof, removing money from poor-boxes in churches, get divorced, skydiving, tongue piercing, high-speed train surfing, peeing on an electric cable, boxing a pro fighter and setting his ex-wife’s carpet on fire.
When Jack was a kid Andy once was dragging him out of the house to their tricicles and they were racing down main street to get a particularly good angle on a sunset. Andy was laughing with excitement. Jack could see it was beautiful, but no thrill was running through his system.
Later, as a student, when he had to go to Paris, Jack invited Andy to stay with him in the appartment for some weeks. People said Jack was generous. The truth was he knew he would be unmoved by Paris, but he would be moved by his friend’s response to it.
Salt Lake City
When the Choir of Jailed Polygamists sang Home, Sweet Home at the prison concert, the inmates were so deeply moved that 93 % of them escaped the same night, and were arrested in their homes the next day.
German Literature In the U. S.
What German literature needs to succed in the United States is a hero who
(1) doesn’t put his ear to the keyhole when he’s hearing a girl singing in the shower
(2) is able to tell a joke about Grandpa & Wehrmacht every thirty-some pages
Inspired by Andy Warhol
Stufen / Steps
„Are you happy looking back on our wedding, my love?“
„Oh girl! We’ll walk from space to space in glad progression,
and should not cling to one as homestead for us. Childhood … College … Wedding …
Delivery-room … Obstetrician’s fee … Savings for future education …
Monthly mortgage payments … Property tax …
Two cars … Two bedrooms … One closet for each bedroom …
Reducing the distance to bathroom from bedroom …
Can the door locks in our old people’s home be opened easily from outside in an event of emergency? … Hospitalization …
Every blossom fades, and all youth sinks into old age, see?“
„Instead of hiring a bartender, we should have asked your father to mix the first drink for everybody and then suggest that everybody mix his own after that. People tend to drink less if an overgracious host doesn’t plunge for empty glasses the instant they are drained.“
„Anon, my heart! Say farewell and do recover.“
(Based on a true story. Criminal Court, 100 Centre Street.)
After four years as a regular runaway, James turned 10. By that time Illinois had tracked down his father, who abandoned him at age one. State justice authorities wished James good luck as they stood at a gate at the O’Hare airport while making sure he understood that he was no longer welcome in Chicago.
His father – Dale – became a real inspiration to James. For example, Dale had no idea what a law-abiding life might be like. When he tried to imagine it, he made some predictable errors: He assumed that it will be very much like his present life – minus the fun. „You know, Jim, cleaning toilets while giving up the excitement of driving fast or the stimulation of white junk.“
James was arraigned in Night Court on drug charges and celebrated his 19th birthday in a cell.
François et Jeffrey
En 1763, le roi de Grande-Bretagne impose à ses sujets canadiens une série de lois restrictives pour les amener sans délai à reduire la consommation de sucre de 90 %. Des cartes de rationnement sont distribuées et chacun dispose de 10 grammes de sucre par mois. Le temps de boire un (non-)chocolat chaud, en lisant un amour fou au lit – la vie tourne au cauchemar amer.
Pour illustrer le concepte de „circuit économique“ et de „redistribution des richesses“ le professeur de l’Elementary School de Magog, Province de Québec, donne à chacun de ses deux seuls étudiants une barre de chocolat à utiliser comme bon leur semble.
Le lendemain François annonce qu’il a doublé son capital, et le professeur le félicite.
En revanche Jeffrey doit avouer sa banqueroute; il dit qu’il a perdu sa barre de chocolat en jouant aux dés avec François.
The stepmother comes across Cinderella in chic stockings. „What are those for?“ she asks.
„To make your stepdaughter agréable for the ball.“
„Then why aren’t they?“
Boucher Jacques Lepierre quitte Paris pour le Québec dans l’espoir de faire fortune et d’acheter un manteau de fourrure pour sa fille. Au lieu d’obtenir le travail promis, il finit par devoir mendier devant l’église Notre-Dame à Montréal, où il fait la connaissance d’un orignal, d’un ours et d’un raton laveur. Jacques ne laisse pas passer sa chance.
Quand il retourne à Paris, sa fille trouve que le manteau est d’une vulgarité dégoûtante.
Tu es un rêve d’enfance
et quand, enfin!, on passe la frontière,
on apprend que tu n’existes pas seulement mais
tu es même en grande forme.
L’île de Montréal avec son vieux port,
le village d’Ayer’s Cliff, pittoresque et prospère,
le Ranch du Spaghetti,
le lac Massawippi –
je vais gagner au Scrabble, un jour, avec ce mot là: Massawippi.
Tes oiseaux m’accompagnent – tes oies blanches, les noires –
et avec un peu de chance
tes orignaux et cariboux apparaissent.
Québec! Tu es plein de sites uniques et tu parles du coeur.
Tu as un moral d’enfer
Tu prends les choses en main, tu as réponse à tout
Ton sourire fait plaisir à voir
Tous les allophones que croisent tes chemins sont charmés
Tout bien considéré, je devrais aller au bureau d’immigration,
parce que tu es l’endroit sécurisé sur mon plan d’évacuation.
J’essaierai d’être un bon citoyen canadien ou,
si néccessaire, un séparatiste courageux.
Québec – tu as un tas d’idées et si tu es patient,
certaines pourraient te mener loin.
Thoreau’s grave, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts.
„Eh, Mr Poet, is it you? How do you like the world to-day?“
Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Coming back from a reading Mr Poet feels flat broke. He sold a book for twenty dollars that he had previously purchased in the book shop for twenty-four. Earnings: Minus $ 4.
„How much is my poetry worth?“ he asks himself at the desk in his studio. So he takes a pencil, a sheet of paper, writes „Assets“ and lists:
The amount of money he has in his savings accounts, in savings and loan associations, in credit unions, in time deposits, in cash in his wallet, in the fridge at home and in this wooden box in the garage.
The cash value of his life insurance.
The value of his United States Savings Bonds.
The market value of stocks and fund shares.
The market value of mortgages he has extended to others.
The money he would get if he put his house and land, and his summer studio on the market this week.
The money he would get if he offered his car to a used car dealer, the boat to a boat dealer.
The market value of his household goods: furniture, rugs, TV, stereo, linen, silverware. He makes his own conservative estimate, then slashes it by fifty percent and freckons he is on safe ground.
The market value of the paintings, rare books, art objects, coins, stamps and antiques. He arrives at his estimate, then slashes it by ninety percent.
Unpleasantly surprised by the outcome, he yells: „I’m even poorer than I thought!“
From now on Mr Poet avoids restaurants where he has to give tips to a large staff – headwaiter, maître d’hotel, doorman, hat check girl, rest-room attendant. He has a couple of drinks at home before going out.
He later writes: „The poorhouse vision for a long time made the drapery of my dreams.“
Where to Invade Next?
„Where to invade next? Iran?“
„Switzerland? We’d find lots of money there so we’d never have to buy only sale items ever again.“
„I once met a really friendly Swiss guy. We fed him an apple in an orchard near Concord.“
„What about Cuba?“
„Fidel Castro hasn’t done anything stupid lately. And I hear he’s stopped talking. He’s stopped eating. He’s stopped moving. He’s stopped showering. He’s stopped everything. But he hasn’t done anything stupid.“
„North Korea? The right place to go on a diet, so maybe next June our female submariners will be thin enough to wear a bikini instead of uniforms.“
„I don’t want to think about bathing suits yet.“
„I heard the U. S. Development Corporation presented its draft cease-fire masterplan for Syria. The focus is on a proposed hockey rink on the parking lot at the Public Library in Damascus.“
„What’s that for?“
„Urban revitalization. Vibrancy.“
„It doesn’t make any sense to me to build a large hockey rink and not have the right to park right there. China?“
„Too cold. I wonder if Russians lean against each other for comfort, like the sailors in Moby Dick.“
„Not geographical enough to invade.“
„The consequences of a drone attack on Julien Assange are manageable, though. At least not that many innocent people would die.“
„You know, war isn’t the solution for everything.“
„Who said anything about solutions?“
„Non-Americans are every bit as intelligent and capable of feeling pain as ourselves. They are inquisitive, interesting individuals who value their lives, solve problems, experience fear and love, and are capable of using tools.“
„So let’s call the President, then. No more invasions.“
„Right. No more invasions. You have his number?“
Lincoln, Titanic, Spa
„Heard you went to the spa yesterday?“
„Spas are stupid.“
„My wife is stupid.“
„She made you go.“
„I told her you were fine but sometimes she just does whatever.“
„It’s okay, really.“
„In South Dakota there are four presidents carved into a mountain.“
„On the Discovery channel, they said it took fourteen years to make their faces and they almost added a lady. But then they didn’t. Don’t you think that’s weird?“
„Have you ever seen it?“
„Uh, yes. I go there every freaking week because it’s so interesting. Who doesn’t want to look at presidents‘ faces carved into a mountain?“
„You’ve seen Lincoln?“
„Day-Lewis will get another Oscar, I tell you.“
„I love watching the Oscar ceremony. You never know which celebrity will melt into a babbling idiot. Only to return to his seat wishing he’d stayed at home and watched the show on TV like the rest of us.“
„Remember James Cameron? Shouting ‚I’m the king of the world!‘ as he waved his trophy. Then he calls for a moment of silence in remembrance of the 1,500 people who died when the ship went down. Next thing he reverts to hyperventilating hysteria and yells: ‚Now let’s party ‚til dawn.‘ You know what I love about fishing?“
„The silence. None of our darlings and honeys around to encourage anyone to go to the spas.“
Poetry of the Taliban
Hot, hot trenches are full of joy;
Attacks on the enemy are full of joy.
Guns in our hands and magazine belts over my shoulders;
Grenades on my chest are full of joy.
Leave the lips and spring, O poet!
Poems full of feeling are full of joy.
Jawad, I say, on the true path of Jihad,
All kinds of troubles are full of joy.
Jawad, Mai 21, 2001
Und ein Vers, den man sich durchaus auch in der Anthologie „Modern and Contemporary Swiss Poetry“ vorstellen könnte:
I know the black, black mountains;
I know the desert and its problems.
My home is the mountain, my village is the mountain and
I live in the mountains.
I know the black ditches.
I always carry a rocket-launcher on my shoulder.
Faizani, May 21, 2008
James Bond Dies
Some incredible action movies coming soon:
James Bond (Daniel Craig) is grabbed by the hair, plunged under water, held there without a breath for twenty minutes, is released, and everyone in the audience surely expects, that he will resurface alive from the water; instead, he slowly floats awkwardly to the surface, a clumsy corpse, by which everyone is deeply and most unpleasantly surprised.
John McClane (Bruce Willis) falls into the elevator shaft and doesn’t return intact and unharmed, as one might rightly expect.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) and Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) are falling from a plane without parachutes, and against all odds, are smashed to death.
Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger lies unconscious for two whole years (short-circuit fault), recovers, then starts to rust and falls apart. Something quite incredible.
In Life of Pi II, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel (Suraj Sharma) falls into a cage with a beast of prey, says a certain magic word, but contrary to all normal expectations, is eaten to pieces.
John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has fallen ill with an incurable disease, decides it unnecessary to go to the doctor, treats himself instead, and, to everyone’s disbelief, soon dies after.
A bonfire is seen beneath Batman (Christian Bale), flames are shooting upwards, everyone in the theatre is anxious, wondering how he will successfully evade a tragic outcome, but Batman, with howls and cries, is burned to ashes, to the great surprise of all assembled.
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) waters all the flowers every morning, stands in his socks on a chair to reach the pots on the upper shelf, leaving his slippers on the floor beneath the chair. He checks what’s missing in the fridge before going to annoy some Nazis, he plans to buy the missing items on his way back. But he falls in the heart of a battle and perishes in the most common way.
Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania.
A Message From Ramos Dupre, Dean of Students:
I want to take this opportunity to welcome you to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.
Each September, new freshmen arrive lugging suitcases bursting with questions and clean socks. „Where’s the Magnolias?“ they ask sophomores.
„What are nonrefundable meal tickets and what do teachers think about taking a sick day from time to time?“
„Would you rather die peacefully among friends at the age of 25, or painfully and alone at the age of 50?“
„Would you accept $ 1,000,000 to leave beautiful Pennsylvania and never set foot in it again?“
And many more. To answer these questions, I’d like to tell you the true story of two Swarthmore College freshmen.
Wei was a bright boy from a good family. His roommate, Phil, was a wiseacre with long sideburns. Each morning at 5:45 a.m., Wei would rise, say his prayers to the god of his parents‘ choice, and jump into a cold shower. By 7:30 his shined shoes found him finishing his scholarship job hosing off things in the bio lab, and ready to enjoy his day of classes with a full binder.
Phil never studied, thought campus leaders were „a**lickers“, and rarely woke before noon. Phil had a bad attitude, something that goes hand in hand with smart remarks, poor posture, and improper programs of personal hygiene.
At graduation, Wei received a summa cum laude for his fine thesis on the Physics of Walking in Ancient European Cultures, and Phil barely squeaked by with mumbled excuses and borrowed homework.
Wei became an first-rate, honored drone scientist for the US Air Force – Phil drifted from job to job, working as cab-driver and doing dirty jobs for the Mob. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 1993-94, 1996-98, 2000, 2002-05, his long sideburns following him around like two Communist sympathies. Phil was last seen in 2006 and rumored to be part of the widened roadway at Interchange 6 on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Good grades – or long sideburns and death – the choice is yours.
Parrish Hall, Swarthmore College
By the way: The Iranians would never H-bomb a small campus like Swarthmore, many freshmen think. They should talk to their frat brothers from Nagasaki State, class ’45.
You are man enough and know what I mean by that: Have fun! And lots of pep! As long as possible.
Lydia Callis For President!
We endorse Lydia Callis for president.
Choosing who should be entrusted to lead the Divided States of America is not a responsibility that should be taken lightly, and never has that maxim been truer than in this current election cycle. The economy is stagnant and the American way of life is threatened by a host of dangers, both foreign and domestic.
And so the time has come to decide who is best equipped to lead the country through this era of great crisis and great opportunity. America needs a leader who offers a coherent vision and who appeals to the better angels of Nature. In short, this country needs the best woman for the job.
And so it is without ambivalence or hesitation that we endorse Lydia Callis, sign-language interpreter of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for president. Her career has probably not been without its mishaps. She has, like all of us at one time or another, definitely made her share of mistakes. But she has her two feet planted firmly on the ground and her dignity, her flexibility and political acumen intact.
Our reasons for putting her on the ballot are:
– She enjoys what she’s doing.
– The modern American man has a weakness for women in powerful positions, and Lydia Callis expertly exploits that weakness.
- She knows that the strongest individuals and leaders are forged through trials by fire and water.
– She’s Mayor Bloomberg’s right and left hand in climate change politics and our hope for a “Green New Deal”.
- She makes bad news bearable.
- It would be such a relief, not to have to listen to all this president’s speeches anymore.
- She’s more attractive than Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney and their wives.
We ask U. S. citizens to keep these points in mind as they enter the voting booth on Election Day.
Foto: Anstehen für Trockeneis, Union Square.
Wir können alles verlieren, auf einen Schlag –
Kühlschrank. Dach. Gesundheit. Unsere Liebsten.
Eine Lektion, die dich der Alltag lehrt, oder, warum nicht, Sandy.
Photo: Help and equipment on New Jersey Turnpike is heading for New York.
Power Blackout Movies Set in East Village:
On day 4 without electricity and heating, Pete is writing music in bed, and a sheet of the manuscript of a duet falls off and slides under the bed. Pete tries to reach it without getting out of the warm nest but can’t quite make it. With a sigh he takes another sheet of manuscript paper and writes another duet. A friend (winter coat, scarf, gloves) enters the room and Pete asks him to retrieve the original manuscript. The two versions of the duet are quite different. Pete adds an extra part to the first and uses it as a trio in the same opera, called: Get Your Toes in Bed.
Douad, an assassin, arrives in New York on a mission to murder an opponent of his country’s government, only to learn that the man has already been killed by Sandy. He is given another target, a former colonel in the Shah’s army, but a series of accidental happenings nudge him into a personal relationship with cab driver Helga.
Cab driver Helga gives the boys she drives the door test. Whenever she opens the car door for a passenger, she watches to see if he leans over to open the door on her side. If he unlocks the door, he passes. If he doesn’t, „well, Douad, there’s no re-test“, she says, smiling at this young, helpless but mysterious guy she picked up at the closed Bleecker Street subway station.
About an hour before Betsy’s date arrives to pick her up, she throws some old bread in a pan, with a little water and lots of cinnamon, sugar and vanilla. She puts it in the oven and bakes it at 325 degrees for a half hour. When she takes it out of the oven, it’s a horrific-looking mess and nothing anybody would like to eat, but her appartment now smells undeniably fabulous. Betsy used this technique on a number of occasions with great success. Men normally don’t have any idea why they feel so good and comfortable at her home, but they’ll want to eat her up with a spoon.
And in these times it gives her date a good sense of direction when he’s finding his way through the darkness to her door.
„Good Evening and welcome to People Meet People, the programme in which we get the chance to talk to people from all walks of life. This week our first guest is Mrs. Lily Skinner, known to her friends as Lil, who has lived in the same house for over eighty years. Lil, to begin, may I ask just how old you are?“
„Eighty-five last birthday, love.“
„Do you think the world’s a better place today than when you were a child?“
„No, dear, I don’t. We knew how to enjoy ourselves in those days. People today with all their Smartphones – walking around like Zombies looking for a signal; they don’t get no pleasure out of it. Not like we used to with our tin phones.“
Veronique wears her rattiest, ugliest, elastic-challenged granny panties, because she hasn’t done her laundry in two weeks. She meets Enrique, a ballet dancer, at the free-food-truck on Astor Place, and they fall for each other faster than the dumplings are eaten. They go to his place (more torches available), but there’s a strong motivation for Veronique to keep her pants on. Also Enrique is not in danger of things going too far – he’s chosen not to shave his legs the last four days.
Dritter Tag ohne Strom in Lower Manhattan.
Wie Tausende andere ohne Strom, Telefon, Internet und Warmwasser passiere ich die Grenze an der 40. Strasse, die Middle Age Manhattan von der funktionierenden Welt trennt.
Beleuchtete Supermarkets! Ampel-geregelter Strassenverkehr!
Cafes, die Filialen der Chase-Manhattan Bank, der Port Authority Bus Terminal – alle Orte sind überschwemmt mit Leuten aus Lower Manhattan, die Batterien von Cellphones und Computern aufladen.
Die Touristen sind wieder unterwegs zwischen Times Square und Park Avenue, als hätte es nie einen Hurrikan gegeben.
Ich sitze auf der Strasse vor dem Starbucks, und eine Touristin fragt: „Can you tell me where I find the Apple Store?“
Ich fühle mich als Refugee hier oben, sende meine „Es geht uns gut, aber ich friere in der Wohnung“-E-Mails in die Welt, schleiche mich in ein Restaurant, um wieder mal mit warmem Wasser die Hände und den Kopf zu waschen, suche beinahe verzweifelt nach einer freien Steckdose, damit ich auch die nächsten Tage mein Krisengebietsreportage-Gebaren aufrechterhalten kann … Und diese Person will wissen, wo der Luxustempel von Apple zu finden ist?
Ich erledige die Einkäufe für eine kinderreiche Familie – Pasta, Konserven, UHT-Milch, passiere wieder die Grenze an der 40. Strasse und kaufe einem Homeless eine seiner gestohlenen New York Times ab, weil es bei uns unten keine Post gibt.
East Village, After the Hurricane
Gratisabgabe vergänglicher Lebensmittel.
Vor unserem Haus, East 5th Street.
Downtown In the Dark
After the wind and rain and waves –
Workers remove water from the basements in Spring Street.
„Everything now’s better in high heels“, a young man says.
„Let’s go home and set up some candles to set the mood for seduction“, another one says.
„Now it’s hard times for someone who prefers watching TV over talking to the neighbors“, a third one says.
The East River moved across the West Side Highway, spread past Washington and Greenwich Streets and then most of the way to the street named for the western river: Hudson.
That is: The East River moved 1’200 feet inland, nearly 300 meters.
The only lighted structure downtown is the giant skeleton of the new tower at 1 World Trade Center.
Up in 42th Street (where life is Grande Latte Decaf as usual) I get involved in dog fights about recharging the electrical equipment.
I stay at home, drying clothes.
And when it get’s too dark I recite dialogues from movies I have seen way too many times.
I eat Ketchup out of the bottle.
I try to keep myself reasonably clean.
8 millions without power in NJ and NY.
18’000 flights cancelled.
6’400 people in New York in emergency centers.
And – of course – a new star is born:
Lydia Callis, sign-language interpreter for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s news briefings on TV. A beauty with dark hair, sharp suits; she throws all her body into signing, from her head to her hands to her lips.
Wir sind bei der Zürcher Künstlerin Elodie Pong zum „Katastrophen-Dinner“ eingeladen, wir sitzen am Esstisch und basteln uns Sushi. Die dreijährigen Lili und Lila schauen Dominik Dachs auf dem Laptop.
Um zwanzig vor neun geht das Licht aus.
Julien – seit vier Monaten Schweizer – zaubert eine Hochleistungstaschenlampe hervor. Wir haben bereits gefürchtet, Hurrikan Sandy würde uns ausser Geschepper im Backyard und Berge von Grünzeugs auf der Strasse hier im East Village, Evakuationszone D, nichts an extraordinären Erfahrungen und Responsibilitäten bescheren.
Nun, endlich: Bewährungsprobe.
Um die Batterien ihres Laptops zu schonen, ist nun fertig mit Dachs und Katzenpiraten. Alle Taschentelefone haben noch Empfang, aber man macht sich Sorgen, wo die I-Phones aufgeladen werden können. (Achtzehn Stunden später bietet der Polizeiposten, unser Nachbar, einen Telefonaufladservice an.)
Linda Geiser, unsere Landlady, klopft und verteilt Taschenlampen und Rechaudkerzli an die Familien.
Mit einer Taschenlampe im Mund mache ich mich an den Abwasch. Als wären wir in der Alphütte im Simmental.
Julien und ich wetten, wann wir wieder Strom haben werden. Der Verlierer schuldet dem Gewinner ein vierzeiliges Gedicht.
Am Morgen: kalt duschen. Gedicht schreiben. Die Milch ausmachen. Kein Strom bis hinauf zur 39. Strasse, berichtet Lindas Gatte.
Die Performance-Künstlerin Gisela Hochuli, deren heutiger Auftritt abgesagt worden ist (wie überhaupt alle Veranstaltungen in Manhattan, von Kellerkino bis Broadway), ist gestern zu müde gewesen, um den Rückflug umzubuchen, und jetzt ist sie – ohne Netz, mit einer nutzlosen E-Bookers-Telefonnummer – im Seich.
Frühstück bei Julien und Jasmin. Pancakes mit Ahornsirup und italienischem Kaffee, das Gas funktioniert noch.
Fürs Radiogerät fehlen uns grosse Batterien. Julien klebt kleine Batterien mit Isolierband zusammen, schneidet mit seinem Victorinox Drähte zurecht und schafft es, dieses Mac-Guyver-Konstrukt an den Ghettoblaster zu hängen. Wir sind wieder verbunden mit der Welt und hören Nachrichten auf WNYC:
The Aftermath of the Storm … The new world we’re living in … Stay home today! … It will be a long clean-up here … 7 millions without electricity … no public transportation today … seven deaths …. 200 patients and two babies evacuated … two british soldiers shot in Afghanistan …
In den wenigen offenen Läden tappen die Leute im Dunkeln, suchen mit Taschenlampen nach Pasta und Tomatensauce.
Der Mann an der Kasse packt die Sachen ein und addiert aufs Geratewohl: „Five, six, eight, eleven Dollars. Have a nice day.“
Ein anderer Shop verteilt gratis ihr Häagen-Dasz-Eis. Alle Kühlschränke und Tiefkühler bis zur 39. Strasse sind ausgestiegen. Wir fragen uns, wieviele Esswaren in den nächsten Tagen von Läden und Restaurants fortgeschmissen werden müssen.
Die meisten Einsatzwagen des Elektrizitätswerks am Union Square sind ausgefahren.
Um diese Skizze zu senden und Fragen nach meinem Gesundheitszustand zu beantworten, marschiere ich vierzig Strassen hoch zum nächsten Starbucks mit funktionierendem WiFi.
I won’t let the Hurricane pass without experiencing
his majesty and sublimity –
and give him something to think about on its way
We knee high, looking forward to the storm as a monstrous speciality, a leviathan. Our world might be eaten, blown to bits. We wanted to be in on it.
The sulfurous afternoon went black unnaturally early, as if what was to come could not be star-lit, torch-lit, looked at. The rain set in, one huge Noah douche. Then the wind. (…)
I wish to do a first-class job when reading this Sylvia Plath stuff (Ocean 1212-W, 1962)
to the hurricane.
So I give myself a host of mental instructions like: Stand up straight! Don’t move around, and don’t use your hands! Don’t let the hurricane see you use notes! Speak loud, very loud!
The wind is so stimulating
that I could carry on prodigiously for long hours.
The Deadly Plant
I have a complicated relationship with a plant.
Given to me to overwinter.
I read the care instructions sent with the plant. So I water it,
move it into the sunlight spot – but I’m not good with plants.
Some years ago, I managed to let two undemanding cactuses die of thirst.
The plant’s leaves are poisonous to cats.
I have now in my household a plant that
could kill some of us.
I envision a scene of my returning from Key Foods,
the plant destroyed and a cat corpse in the soil on the floor.
I chase the cat away whenever it approaches the sunlight spot.
When visitors see it, they ask if I’m trying to create
a female-homely atmosphere. A botanical garden. Children-Ersatz.
The plant. The cat. I make a promise to myself:
One of them I’ll get through winter.
Sometimes I chew a plant’s leaf. Just to see what happens.
Eye irritation, headache, nausea, nothing worse.
I’m sure it also provides me with some, I don’t know what exactly,
essential minerals – there must be something good in every being.
You get to New York in an Airbus A330. When Manhattan rises, it rises like a whale, armoured in steal and glass. You pull the suitcase over the whale’s back. The further you walk into Manhattan, the smaller you get. You walk and walk and get smaller and smaller. A woman stuffs cans into her caddy.
So, here you are, in the United States, you aren’t in a welfare state anymore. What are your chances? In your H&M coat you have cash for some weeks – in case you get robbed and murdered you write your name and birthplace on the back of your hand.
You’re able to speak a dozen stray words and a handful of sentences, thanks to a steady diet of American movies:
Get three coffins ready.
You complete me.
May the Force be with you.
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Go ahead, make my day.
Of course in American movies nobody needs words to understand what’s going on.
So you go to the American Language Communication Center on 36th Street. You enter the classroom.
The teacher introduces you to the class: „This is Chris. Say hello to Chris. Tell us, Chris, when did you arrive in New York?“
„Yesterday.“ They lower their heads to grasp better what you’re saying.
„And already joining us! What are you going to do here?“
„I want to become an American writer.“
„I see“, she says in gentle voice. After five lessons you know enough English for your teacher to trust you on errands to stores one block away. „Get me cigarettes“, she says cordially, „and some Diet Coke for the students.“
But you will become an American writer!
You’ll be the the kind of guy who notices the beauty of light reflecting from a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer can. The kind who sees the whole universe in a grain of Long-Island-sand. Who describes a whole world of everyday suburb miracles. Who taps the readers spiritual sources. Invites them to feel how extraordinary the ordinary is.
You’ll become an American writer, presenting new, exhaustive creations on events of historic importance – written down so simply and vividly that the milk-wagon driver in Kansas City and the drugstore clerk in St. Louis will find it interesting and visionary. The toughest parts you’ll write yourself and farm out the rest of the work to part-timers among the starving nurses and overeducated cab drivers.
„You have an agent?“ Ivana, my English teacher, asks. We run up the East River, progressing fast.
„You read a lot?“
„I heard writers have to read a lot.“
„Reading books gives me only the polished final product. Concentrating exclusively on the final product won’t show me the way to get there. I want to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin, though. Heard good things.“
„And certainly you can do much better than that. You’ve written before?“
„I’ve written advertising for high schools and old people’s homes.“
„How you’re going to do it? How do you break into the whole scene?“
„First I have to write, and then I’ll make them listen. Ivana, we’ve been running together for over two weeks now, and I’m very fond of you, and I’d like us to spend the rest of our lives together.“
„You want to marry me?“
„That’s what I’m saying. Church, vows. Separate bedrooms.“
„You want the Green Card, that’s the whole point.“
„What about your compañera back home?“
„She knows. She supports me. She understands politics and business.“
Of course, in order to become an American writer you have to become American first.
But you’re afraid. You’re afraid of becoming a full-time consumer. Collecting coupons and signing up for retail sales newsletters. You’re afraid that you’ll regard every stranger with suspicion. That your health will fail without medicare. That you’ll start talking like this: „You know I was going like you know I’m so soooory“. You’re afraid that you could become afraid of immigrants, the poor, Arabs, foreign languages. You’re afraid that your world shrinks to the size of the United States.
„What’s in it for me?“ my English teacher asks.
„When we get divorced you get half of my millions. So?“
„You’re refusing half of my millions?“
Her mother was determined to make Cara fearless. The thunderstorms of the west, which rage across the prairie and are feared by many children and even by timid adults, were cleverly made by her the children’s special treats for good behavior. Cara and her brothers were allowed, as a great prize, to sit on the porch and watch the next thunderstorm.
So twenty years later, when ailing Cara finds out that her job in Midtown Manhattan – 27th floor, surrounded by 248 lawyers – is eating at her soul, she decides to leave.
Just like that?
Just like that. The job requires me to be someone I’m not, she says.
You’ll get over your fears if you’re in a situation where you simply have to, she says.
Cara moves to Gillette, Wyoming, to help the inhabitants in their legal affairs. Prominent among her cases is that of an old peasant lady who accuses her never-do-well nephew of spending her life savings. He says the money was a present, the lady claims it was a loan.
The town calls Cara the „hard-boiled egg“, refering to the fact that the old lady can only pay the lawyer with eggs.
Ein ausgedienter Radfahrer eröffnet nach Verbüssen seiner Haftstrafe (Meineid, Sportbetrug) eine Fahrradwerkstatt. Im Labor im Hinterzimmer der Werkstatt gelingt es ihm, Zellen seines Blutes mit denen eines Hais zu kreuzen. Das daraus entstehende Mega-Blut transfundiert er sich, und nachdem er die halbe französische Gendarmerie vernichtet hat, dringt er in das Hauptgebäude der Amaury Sport Organisation in Paris ein, um sich die ihm aberkannten Medaillen seiner Profi-Zeit zurück zu holen. Beim Einbruch wird der Alarm ausgelöst, und der „Shark“ sieht sich umstellt von Elitetruppen des französischen Präsidenten. Mit einer Geldstrafe könnte die Angelegenheit beigelegt werden, aber der Radfahrer beharrt auf einem Freispruch.
Nude With Outstretched Arms Part II
The model: That’s supposed to be me?
The artist: Well, not exactly, but sort of.
I stood like a pinned butterfly for hours, trembling with cold, starving, for this?
It’s quintessentially you.
I don’t get it.
When I see a carpet, I ask: What’s underneath?
So what’s underneath my carpet?
Your soul. Your being. That’s what’s left when I substract your mind and flesh that make you spend your life doing things you detest to make money you don’t want to buy things you don’t need to impress people you dislike.
This is your soul. Pure like baby shampoo. Like vitamins. Like snow.
All right. The other night. When you painted me, you were drunk, right?
I was stoned.
You’re a funny kind of drunk. You just sat there looking unhappy and looking at your easel.
I was waiting for your soul to appear.
What about my bones?
Bones is refrigerator. Dishwasher, air conditioning, freezer. Bones is one closet for each bedroom. Bones is monthly mortgage payments. Bones is not what lies underneath the carpet.
How do you feel? Looking at the picture?
I feel fine. It’s nice. It says something. You did a great job.
It’s not a nice painting. And you shouldn’t feel fine. You should feel troubled.
Okay, I feel troubled. But nevertheless, we have to take you back to the mental ward.
I don’t want to go back there. I don’t feel strong enough to get chased by those nurses.
Foto: Theres Buchwalder
Nude With Outstretched Arms
„Are you sure you’re okay to hold that position for twenty minutes?“ the artist asks.
„Sure“ the model says.
What helps the model to pass the time is inventing a brief interior monologue to accompany the pose Nude with outstretched arms:
– Don’t be afraid, little butterfly! We do not wish to harm you. Spread your wings so we can pin you to the board!
– Countrymen and confederates, we must break the close ranks of the Habsburg pikemen! I will open a passage into the line; protect my wife and children! Now let’s freeze for a second and pray, before poor old Winkelried throws himself upon the pikes, okay?
– Come on, guys, where’s my damned bathrobe? Do I have to air-dry or what?
The model likes to think that if only he hadn’t been born one hundred years too late, he would have been an artist’s model in Montmartre, as celebrated as the most famous male prostitutes of the day. „I would have taken off my clothes in sinister basements and drunk absinthe with Picasso, Modigliani and Mondrian.“
The artist, on the other hand, dislikes looking at the model’s where-the-sun-don’t-shine-parts, but he maintains the professional detachment of an urologist.
Leaving Times Square,
walking hours until I reach
a dark spot at the Hudson River from where
I can see some precious few stars and
Thinking of the little girl in
Carl Sandburg’s poem who, when she
sees the midsummer moon arise,
wants to know what it’s
supposed to advertise.
Foto: Theres Buchwalder
Philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek in discussion with Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party of the USA.
Mr. Žižek, your musings about Communism are dressed up as new and nuanced thinking …
I’d never claim that. My views are rather old statements with the dominant bourgeois narrative of communism as „failure“ and „horror.“
The world is a horror. The ecosystems threatened, malnutrition and hunger, neocolonial wars …
And Communism is the cure?
… Growing numbers of people, from Egypt to the Occupy movements, are resisting. We are helping them to question the existing social order.
Now, that shit’s new. Until now, you and the RCP always had the answers. No questions, only answers.
As I wrote in the book Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles …
Listen, Mr. Avakian, Communism failed absolutely. Socialism in the Soviet Union was brutal direct domination. Mao in China reduced people to a disposable means.
Your words against Stalin and Mao are stunning for the absence of materialist analysis. The Great Leap Forward in China of 1958-60 accomplished …
… accomplished collectivized agriculture, overcame urban-rural inequalities and technological-cultural gaps, challenged feudal and family tradidtion …
You bet it did.
… and, yes, helped to solving China’s historic food problem.
No food at all doesn’t seem like a solution to me.
This is just vilification of Mao and sensationalistic history. The Cultural Revolution in China of 1966-76 effected unprecedented transformations in education, in industrial-management practices, in healthcare, in the arts.
Name one artist of this Golden Age in Chinese history!
You won’t let go of bourgeois democracy.
I won’t exchange it for blind anti-capitalism, no.
Freedom fighters are well aware that freedom comes only by overcome capitalism and U. S. imperialism.
Freedom fighters are well aware that freedom comes only insofar as it is truly social freedom.
Armand is a powerful force in the U. S. wedding economy. An enormous $ 28,000 worth of engagement and wedding rings have being sold to him every couple of years – Armand’s name is well known in the Diamond Council of America in Nashville, TN. The average bride and her entourage cost Armand an estimated total of $ 32,500 worth of wedding goods and services (inflation-adjusted), ranging from gifts to clothes and wedding reception food and drink. Expenses usually paid by Armand: Bride’s engagement and wedding rings, marriage licence, clergyman’s fee, bride’s flowers, including corsage and bouquet boutonnieres for the men of the wedding party, corsage for mothers, gloves and ascots for men of the wedding party and hotel accommodation for out-of-towners.
After the vows are spoken, Armand’s next major expense is the honeymoon.
How long is Armand’s average honeymoon trip?
About four days.
Depends on his new wife’s wishes and inhibitions and on Armand’s mood and business performance (direct correlation). It was about $ 65 on his first honeymoon in 1982 to Niagara Falls. Back then Armand was still at Columbia University, refinancing the honeymoon costs by selling weed to Germans in the Greyhound bus. His first honeymoon outside the United States (Rio de Janeiro, 1987, third marriage, after selling a patent to IBM) cost him well over $ 3,000. The first two honeymoons were by bus, the next eleven by jet charter, in the crisis of 2007 Armand’s new wife was forced to travel United Airlines.
What about honeymoons in Europe?
Armand didn’t like Berlin in 1991, and he didn’t like Rome in 1998. He did like St. Moritz in 2004 and 2005, because he got a special cut-rate deal that slashed his helicopter transportation costs. The expenses in Europe are subject to enormous variation, though.
How has Armand saved on his wedding and honeymoon since 2007?
Home wedding. Simple reception (local brew, Californian wines, champagne from Argentina). Cocktail buffet instead of a sit-down dinner. Nieces and nephews doing the catering. He wears a wedding suit that he can use on other occasions later. For his honeymoons, he now works with travel agents on package deals and takes advantage of bargain flights if his wife wants to go abroad. He plans ahead and, if feasible, makes his reservation well in advance of the next wedding to take full advantage of any money-saving offers.
Clown and Teacher
Timothy had found himself clowning again and then thought of going the distance – he decided to take his first night performing class at the Academy of Performing Arts. It wasn’t actually a „class“, this was during the summer session, and Timothy met six times one-on-one with his professor, Odis Williford. Each session lasted two hours. Professor Williford sat in a hall with barres and mirrors, and patiently dissected Timothys jokes and tricks, move by move, line by line. He was dying of lung cancer – they didn’t talk about it, but it was obvious. Timothy kept thinking: „This guy’s dying, and he’s choosing to spend twelve of his last hours on earth with me, a total stranger, a clumsy beginner clown.“
Whether it was his love of performing arts or his love of teaching that kept him there, Timothy didn’t know. But it was humbling to see a man care so much.
Jesus, please, protect my son. He leaves me tomorrow, he’s going to teach English in godless Paris, where they watch pornography in schools as part of their ‚biological‘ education and stage plays where Imams and Rabbis rape the Christmas tree. I heard that in my son’s school the children are supposed to count aloud in the maths class and each time they reach the number seven or any number containing the digit seven, they have to say „Poison!“ A poster depicting the Pope in the classroom has an attachable string which, when pulled, causes a burst condom, a dollar sign and two guns to emerge. Jesus, take care of my son and bring him back pure and straight and with two bottles of duty free Absinthe for his sorrowful mother. Amen.
The President’s Family
When my daughters Sasha and Malia wake up and you say „Good morning!“ to them, they assault you with profanity in return. So Michelle goes like: „Girls, get up, go to the kitchen table and take your seats now! Otherwise, Clint Eastwood will yell at them.“
Zum Erstellen der Steuererklärung 2011 fehlen mir noch folgende Angaben:
1. Kopie der eingereichten Steuerklärung 2010 und sofern vorhanden, die definitive Veranlagung.
2. Wegkosten-Auslagen, Weiterbildung etc.
3. In welchem %-Ausmass bist Du erwerbstätig ?
4. Aufwand Krankenkasse für ganze Familie
5. Fahrzeuge in Deinem Besitz (Marke, Kaufjahr, Kaufpreis)
7. Sind alle Familienmitglieder Mormonen?
Für das Ausfüllen haben wir noch etwas Zeit. Ich werde dann nebst der Steuererklärung 2011 auch gleich ein Budget fürs 2012 erstellen und die neue, sicher massiv höhere Steuerbelastung berechnen.
Schon mal im Voraus: Gratulation zur Wahl ☺☺☺!!!!!!!!
„Daddy, do you think second grade is going to be any different than first grade?“
„Not a chance in hell, honey. You’ll have to sharpen your pencils and do tons of homework every day.“
„They keep you in school until you’re safely through your growth spurts and all of that puberty confusion. And you get so terrified of the real world that after school you go to some university to stay put for four more or eight more years, or whatever. Great uncle Jack is sixty-seven and he’s still taking classes up in Boston. Any other questions?“
„What is a French kiss, dad?“
„A French kiss? You really do have faith in my memory, don’t you?“
It was an early Saturday morning. Barry (working in PR, creating never-used ad campaigns for Levi’s and Visa, hoping someday he’d find a job „that would make me feel alive“) was carrying a pile of tiles to replace some broken ones in the restroom of grandma’s fast food restaurant. Nothing special, black and white tiles.
Without a box to store them in, he was carrying them like library books, and held them in his lap in the subway, everyone had something friendly to say. When he showed a photo of grandma’s restroom, everyone was excited. They remembered the drawings of their childhood – black and white squares representing houses, animals, playing fields. He arrived in Brooklyn and was kneeling in grandma’s restroom when he was hit with a clearheaded revelation: Black and white got people excited. Black and white made people think of their childhoods, of pencils and chalk, of the movies they loved. Black and white meant good times. Black and white was part of the celebration of life. People love to be surrounded by black and white. Black and white were the highest-profit-margin colors in any dye factory. The most time-consuming step in interior design was to choose smooth colors, but these tiles proved that black and white could trigger the drool reflex. Barry smelled an opportunity.
That afternoon he told his grandma: „From this very moment, I am an interior decorator. And it’s going to be black and white. Nothing but black and white.“
Got it, guys? Traditionally, the search for a career begins with the question: what am I good at? But that’s often not the right starting point for finding a calling. You can become good at what you need to serve what you believe in.
A Day At the Office
An office. We fill it carefully with desks, chairs, computers, air-conditioning, tiny things. Let’s imagine a man and a woman working here. The woman is apparently the man’s boss, who seems to be her assistant. She sits at a desk by the door, studying a document that she is holding in front of her. He is standing at a filing cabinet with his right hand resting on an open drawer. Their postures suggest he is waiting to hear what she will say next. Perhaps he has just asked her something informal about the upcoming weekend and she is thinking about how to answer, or perhaps he is simply expecting her as his superior to give him a new order. Let’s speculate that the woman and the man have a romantic interest in each other that neither he nor she can express. Let’s focus on her reluctance to reveal that she is enamored of him. She is entertaining sensual visions of her employee in her mind while doing nothing to bring them about. He merely imagines passionate scenes with her, does nothing to help it to come to life. How might he produce the right combination of words? How can he say „Let’s go to see a movie together after work“?
She says: „When I was a little girl, I thought all advertisements were true. There was a time I actually thought people would walk a mile for a Camel cigarette. That ‚whiter than white‘ exists. I try to recreate that feeling when I go to the movies now.“
„Right“, he says. „When I was watching Apollo 13, I felt terribly sorry for the man called Houston. Everyone seemed to want him to solve all their problems.“
She laughs and says: „I used to believe that every movie was just good. There were no such things as a bad script, an overlong movie, bad acting. And when I was confused or annoyed or when I didn’t get it, then that was because I was a stupid child.“
He laughs and says: „When a grown-up was shown as a child, I believed it was actually them, and the film took twenty years to produce.“
She laughs and says: „I used to think that people who were shot died for real. I reckoned the director must pay them millions of dollars and let them live for a little while in big houses and with fancy cars so they wouldn’t be sad when they had to die at filming.“
He laughs and says: „I used to believe that if someone hit you on your back when your eyes were wide open they would pop out of their sockets.“
She says nothing.
He says: „Right.“
When the last of the nineteenth-century Titans died – Melville in 1891, Whitman and Whittier in 1892 – no one was left to take over the armchair. Bryant, Longfellow and Emerson had died a decade earlier, Cooper, Irving, Poe, Thoreau and Hawthorne in the middle of the century. There was a genuine sense of void as the control that these masters had exercised over the ideas and forms of literature passed to the hands of people who wouldn’t be associated with armchairs, but – :
Upton Sinclair? Assembly line. Fitzgerald? Bar-stool. Henry Miller? King-size bed. Jane Bowles? Deck chair. Nabokov? Standing in grass as high as his knees, waving a butterfly net around. Capote? Chaise longue. Ford? Driver’s seat. Annie Proulx? Horse saddle.
The American Family
The American family: So affable, kind and good-natured, so cultivated in trades and fashion, so innocent of politics, tricks and cunning, and so desirous of learning, they seem to be like soft wax, ready to take any impression – I might say that if terrestrial happiness exists it must be in the house of an American family, where the kitchen floor is flooded with milk and Kellog’s. With all sorts of kids, the parents enjoy the benefit of them while they live, and leave them to the benefit of their family companies when they die.
In the backyard I buried a bottle with a piece of paper inside on which I had written that I’d taken possession of this home in the name of the Swiss government.
I will return home to my family determined to bring them to live here in the west as soon as possible, even if it means risking my life and fortune.
„Sheena was about to tell us that she travelled around the world.“
„What was it like?“
„Sheena?! What was it like?“
„Oh, very nice.“
„I always thought the Eiffel Tower looks like a scaffold. Does it?“
„No. Not really.“
„How was China?“
„Sheena travelled around the world. How was China?“
„Very big, China. Lots of rice.“
„Hard to say.“
„Old. Romains and stuff.“
„I liked it, but I felt homesick.“
„And the Netherlands?“
„Very … mobile home. I don’t remember.“
„Dino, your husand. How is he?“
„Oh, fine. He wants a steam pot.“
„What’s a steam pot?“
„A pressure cooker.“
„What’s that for?“
„It cooks faster.“
„How much is it?“
„Tell him, he has enough pots.“
„He has ingrown nails.“
„My sweetheart has ingrown nails. He can’t wear cowboy boots because they hurt his feet.“
„So buy him the steam pot.“
„What are we having for lunch?“
„I hate carrots. What else?“
„Gimme the carrots.“
Cherie In Jail
„I went into the restroom for a smoke. That’s right, I’m starting to smoke again. That’s the state of mind I’m in. My mother says I’m going through a typical middle-age stage, she says Dad went throught the same thing, but I just can’t picture that. On the restroom wall there were hearts drawn with initials inside. I smoked a cigarette and thought of cleaning up the mess I’m in. What’s the plan? Good question. I’ll break Cherie out of jail, then convince her I wasn’t sleeping with the stripper so she doesn’t kill me. Then Cherie and me, we will meet Wilson and she’ll get his job and I’ll get a promotion and a big raise. How does that sound? Hell, I know. But I need her at home, see? You can’t imagine how crazy it’s making me.“
„He says I have an ‚interesting‘ face.
Know what my interesting face is, Teddy? Boredom.
My relationship status sure as hell is going to change soon.“
One Day in Stone Age
Fourteen years ago, Emma Duane gave up a career as a psychiatric nurse to devote herself to a career she had been pursuing since she was eigth: writing TV drama for Sunday evening broadcasts.
Her successful scripts explore a variety of topics:
– The problems two college students face when they move together (Mr. Not-Perfect-At-All)
– Sexual conflicts (The Black Stockings)
– The effects of divorce (Alone)
– What happens when a divorced father steals his young daughter from her mother (Mr. Not-Perfect-At-All Part Two)
– Problems of aging (The Compression Stockings)
– A woman overdosing on food to compensate for the lack of attention from her daughter (Total Alone)
She’s also written about young people in a suburbian setting (Saturday night in Stone Age) and about the love between two teenagers, when the girl discovers that her boyfriend was the driver of the car that accidentally killed her sister a year earlier.
All her stories end on a warm, upbeat note, except her documentary script that describes Emma’s own adventures and the models for her characters (Me Me Me Me Me – a Litany).
„Let’s meet the new neighbors.“
In family A, the full unspoken definition of this phrase is: „Let’s grab some old badmington rackets, walk to the new one’s, and lob the shuttlecock back and forth across their fence until someone wants to quit. Winning is secondary, it’s the fun and get-to-know-each-other that counts.“
In family B it means: „Let’s get out our tomahawks.“
Rupert & Chelsey
Back from school, Rupert and Chelsey spend all their time watching TV. They find the participants of America’s Got Talent nauseating and construct an electronic gun to kill them during a live broadcast.
Matthew J. Hanson
Matthew J. Hanson’s wife is not getting the love she wants. Here are some of her requests:
„Matt, my love, I would like you to:
– set aside one night a week so that we could go out for the evening.
– give me a special present on my next birthday that you have bought and wrapped yourself.
– call me on the phone once a week just to chat.
– remember to pull my chair out for me tonight at dinner.
– reduce your hours at the office so that you don’t have to work on Saturdays and Sundays.
– give up your separate bedroom so that we can sleep together again.
– kiss me before you leave the house.
– tell me important things that happen to you.
– massage my back.
– bring me surprise presents.
– sit close to me when we’re watching TV.
– listen to me when I’m upset.
– check with me first before making plans.
– compliment me of the way I look.
– make love to me.
– hold my hand as we walk.
– take a shower with me.
– go backpacking with me three times each summer.
– sleep in the nude.
– read a novel to me over Christmas vacation.
– stop pointing out the fact that you earn less money than I do.
Matthew reviews his wife’s requests, ranks them according to difficulty, and chooses one that he can honor with relative ease. He will begin to be a better husband that very evening by remembering to pull her chair out at dinner.
Gordon & Dolph
Gordon walked up and down the parking lot, scrutinizing each car, waiting for a sign of recognition, a kindred spirit. Some were too old, too worn. Some were too young, not well cared for. Then he saw it – a perfect match.
The parking lot attendant saw that look in his eyes. There was still the gun pointed at her. „I’ll get the keys“, she said.
She unlocked the car, and Gordon got in. His excitement grew as he stroked the steering wheel. Only 13’000 miles. Not bad. He felt right at home –like it was meant to be. It was a done deal. He was now the proud new owner of a one-year-old Volvo.
Gordon has always been of the philosophy that one should name the car one drives. Makes the car feel important and establishes a bond between car and driver. He has come to believe that everything has consciousness. „Why,“ Gordon says, „treat your car any differently than you would treat your mother?“
Dolph will be three years old this year and has mileage well into the 80’000. He has never failed to take good care of Gordon. Looks like they’ll be together until death or prison do them part.
„Would you like to tell the hooligans to stop firing signal rockets at your games?“
„Sir, we think it’s autoritharian to tell people what to do. It’s not the solution, it’s the problem. It’s more mature to let people make their own decicions. We put a certain amount of freedom of action into the fans that come to see us play. Good question, though.“
Yeah, well, Columbus. I was always carrying messages, you know. The Captain would say to me „Bartolomeo, go to the pilot and tell him the north wind’s going to blow tonight.“ And I would hurry up there, on my four feet, and I would shout out „Hey there, Pero Nino and all of you useless spaniards, don’t poke your noses above ground tonight. The north wind’s going to blow.“
Or Columbus would say: „Bartolomeo, get forty muffins and take them over to the Indians on the island.“
And I’d go to the caboose and ask Pedro, where those muffins for the Indians were.
„Probably lost by now“, he says, „why, you’re hungry?“ And so on.
Nolan was a tough child from Olivebridge in the Hudson Valley. He would wander through the forests and groves, barefoot, killing birds with his catapult. One day, there was a lovely little bird with green feathers and a black ring on its head. It flitted from branch to branch in the grove while Nolan chased after it. But it did not stop long enough in any one spot for him to get his sights on it. Then he saw it pop into a deep hole in an ancient tree, and emerge again a few moments later. Nolan looked through a crack in the bark and saw four fledglings twittering away. He tried to get his hand in to pull them out, but the crack was too narrow. The mother flew around his head uttering tweets of agitation. He found a stick and poked it through the crack, killing all the birds in the nest. Then he hid in the long grass and waited to see what the mother would do. She made a dash for the nest at once and disappeared inside the tree. Nolan waited for her to come out again. He waited there for a long time, but when nothing happened he crept slowly up to the tree and peered through the crack. The mother was lying over her dead fledglings, her wings outspread as though to protect them. Nolan got a stick and prodded her. Nothing. It was only then that he understood that the mother bird was dead. From that time on he loathed the groves. Targets for his catapult were now just the oranges, apples and pears on the shelves at Annie’s Natural Food Store.
Nolan’s a good boy now.
To celebrate her fiftieth birthday, Hellen decided to buy a Moto Guzzi motorcycle, pack her sleeping bag and tent, and ride through all fifty states – one for each year of her life.
Preparing for a three-month adventure was no small undertaking. Hellen had never been alone. After a marriage that lasted seventeen years, her two sons lived with her for the next ten. Her oldest son was in college, and the nineteen-year-old would need to find a place to stay. She worried about his lack of experience and if he would be ok. Finally she knew the woman who returned would not be the same woman who left. That bothered her. A 15’00 mile journey would clearly be a life-changing event. Hellen liked the woman she was. „In what ways will the trip change me?“ she thought. „Will I return?“
The trip was magical. Hellen swam with the manatees in Florida, encountered a tarantula on her bathroom in Oklahoma, saw the high plains of Kansas, rode through howling winds in Montana, felt the magnificence of Bryce Canyon in Utah, and touched the glaciers of Alaska. But the most important part was that she met Miss Wonderful, in, of all places, that small foggy town of Cape Disappointment in Washington. When Hellen first saw her, she was leaning against her Harley-Davidson, surveying the crowd at a local festive day. As she pulled off her helmet, their eyes met. Hellen knew what she was thinking: „Is it really possible to meet another great woman who loves to ride bikes?“
They married four weeks later, back in New York.
If I have a legend
I have had no part in it,
It has been made for me.
But I shall not stoop to contradict it.
The matter leaves me indifferent,
And the world has need of fables.
What am I?
I am a being
who dreams in his room.
I do not trouble about the fate of my dreams.
I do not allow myself to be bothered by the row,
the admiration, or the anger that my dreams may provoke.
I must derive my
delight in dreaming
from my mother.
A Sunday afternoon. Good weather. Mrs. Hershberger wants to get outdoors and enjoy it with her husband. Go for a walk. Eat a picnic lunch in the park. Take a drive to see the bright colors and beautiful scenery. Maybe stop for smoking a waterpipe together on the way home.
Mr. Hershberger got a different idea. Mr. Waldrop is playing Mr. Boehm in the Best-of-Five showdown of the annual Brooklyn Chess Championship. The bright sunny weather? Not a problem, he’ll just close the drapes to cut off any glare on the chessboard. Food? There’s time for a quick pizza between two games.
Mrs. Hershberger still feels like wanting to do something with her husband. So she just lies down until the feeling goes away.
„There isn’t enough standing on tiptoe in my choreography“, Lynn (8) admits, „doubtlessly because there was too much tiptoeing and nothing but that in my second ballet class that poisoned me. There’s a great deal of classical pliés and pirouettes in my choreography though, rond de jambe, holding second position and turnout in fifth position, but I want to give it the expression of a dying human being, wrapped in pain and fear, because, after all, there is a great deal of dying in real life also. Death is everywhere, but they hide it from us, or try to. I don’t dance lovely. Men are not lovely, not often, and no matter what, they die. I think that should be felt in my work. Why must a children performance everytime end happily? I don’t dance for parent meetings.“
For Landing in the U. S.
Collum Mac Lachlan
While his friends are learning late on the night before the examination, NYU-student Collum Mac Lachlan distracts them by playing bagpipes outside their windows.
Rocco’s dominant focus on weather has to do with avoiding getting sick. So if it’s a hot, sunny day, when most people think of going to the beach, he thinks of not going from heat to air conditioning. On cold, snowy days, when some people think of skiing, he thinks of thermal underwear.
A hopeful thought still helps.
Dad’s Wise Words II
„Most people are much more on edge than you think they are. It’s a good idea to treat people generally as though they’re just coming off drugs – carefully, gently. The worse that will happen to you is that people will think you’re unusually sensitive.“
Larissa had a part-time job selling women’s lingerie. She had a lot of things on her mind, and underwear wasn’t one of them. After not being able to sell one or two pieces even to regular customers, the manager called her over and said her performance was below lingerie store standarts. They shook hands, and Larissa left before she put him out of business.
Sharon Stone and me
„Some time ago, I was fishing at the lake when a film crew approached me asking me if I could help them out with a problem. They had just arrived here from Los Angeles in order to do an interview with Sharon Stone. It seemed that Stone was filming in our area and was suddenly ill, and here was an expensive crew standing around with no one to interview. The guy was asking if I would possibly do him a favor and recommend him somebody great or famous from the community to do an interview in her absence.“
„Who did you recommend?“
„Well, I said, I’m a well-known fisher ‚round here, a master of fly-fishing, the like.“
„That was a good idea.“
„The interviewer took out a pad and pen and asked me stupid things about fishing, he had not the slightest idea of fish or fishing or anything. So I offered a solution. Since he already had prepared a list of questions for Sharon Stone, why didn’t he just ask me Sharon’s questions, and who would know the difference?“
„Do you remember the interview?“
„Sure. It went like that:
‚Do you think you’re as sexy as Bo Derek?‘
‚In my own way, yes.‘
‚Did you believe in petting as a teenager?‘
‚I certainly did.‘
‚Do you ever get real moody around a certain time of the month?‘
‚How important is it for you to show off your body and the way you dress?‘
‚Not that important.‘
‚Do you ever get uncomfortable with the way men look at you?‘
‚Do you ever feel you’re being asked to sho too much cleavage?‘
‚Is there any particular man you’d love to play a torrid love scene with?‘
Obama and me
„What’s the matter?“
„Come on. It’s obvious something is wrong.“
„Stan. I can feel it. You’re never this quiet. What is it?“
„What do you mean, I’m never this quiet? What kind of a thing is that to say to me?“
„I know you, and this isn’t you.“
„You think you know me. You’d be very surprised!“
„Well, surprise me. I like surprises. What is it?“
„Barack Obama doesn’t know I’m alive.“
„Barack Obama. He doesn’t know I exist.“
„What’s that mean?“
„No, nothing. I just meant I heard you. I’ll tell you the truth, Stan. I don’t actually think you are upset about Obama. I think you’re pissed that you don’t catch any fish today.“
„I hate it when you do that. You always try to joke me out of everything. I hate it.“
„OK. I’ve just noticed that sometimes you get to feeling a little down when you haven’t caught anything.“
„Stop it, Rob! Just stop it! I could tell him how to beat Romney, you know.“
„At some point in a TV debate, after a stupid Romney answer, Obama looks at him, takes a long pause, and says: ‚You’ve got to be kidding, Mitt‘ or ‚Aw, c’mon!‘ But you never hear Obama say anything like that.“
„Well. But tell me when was your last catch?“
„Why do people get into politics anyway?“
Roger and me
„Roger Federer has just one special talent – as everybody else.“
„You mean, he’s good at playing tennis, and we are good at fishing.“
„Exactly. No need to look up to him.“
„He seems to be talented in business, too.“
„And he seems quite talented in handling family and work. He’s a faithful husband. And he gives interviews in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, German and Swiss-German.“
„I’m not sure if I ever wanna fish with you again, Rob.“
„He lost the Olympics!“
„And you weren’t employee of the month in August.“
„See? Roger and me, we can talk from man to man.“
Wilford, who grew up with five sisters, was fourteen years old when he finally realized that he didn’t have to wrap the towel around his chest when he came out of the shower.
What people take to feel better:
NEW YORK: BERN:
A cocktail Bottle of wine
15 minutes of fame.
20 minutes you have to wait after eating before you can go in the pool.
Numbers and codes people memorize:
NEW YORK: BERN:
Home address Home address
Cell number Cell number
Pin number for cash Pin number for cash
E-mail password E-mail password
Home security system code Veloschloss
What people say when they bang their knee on the corner of the table:
NEW YORK: BERN:
Fucking shit! Hueregopfertami!
Jesus Christ! Scheibe!
How are you?
NEW YORK: BERN:
Busy. Es mues.
NEW YORK: BERN:
Van Go itauiänisch
„Hi, Sweetie! how was your day? What did you have for lunch? Did the meeting go well? What did you do about Mr. Saunder’s missing memory stick? Guess what I ordered for dinner!“
„U de? Isch’s für öppis gsi hütt?“
When people go up to a microphone, they say:
NEW YORK: BERN:
„Check-one, two, check.“ „Sibenesibetzg.“
NEW YORK: BERN:
What people call the other driver when angry:
NEW YORK: BERN:
Fucking Asshole! Huere Gigu!
Bitch! Tummi Moore!
NEW YORK: No Adults Allowed Unless Accompanied by Children.
BERN: Velo abstellen verboten.
Luisa, Maritza and Alfredo have been trained to follow their mother in a well-ordered line. Every day they walk some blocks just to keep in shape. The basement apartment of 317 East 5th Street is in a trendy part of the city, but whenever Alfredo passes by, he feels uneasy there. He begins to suspect something sinister is happening in the former bar, where now an inscrutable European writer lives with his 22-year old toothless cat.
Jeff & Lindsey
Jeff wants to know everything of Lindsey – „If your house was on fire, what would you save and why, if you weren’t born you, what person would you be and why, what do you love to touch and what do you hate to touch, what are you reading, what would you do if someone tried to drown you, would you eat raw fish to survive?“ And she’d say: „Take that straw in your mouth and let me think.“
He’s a tough interviewer, with the most monster checklist of questions of any single human being I’ve ever encountered in my life to this day. I’d say: „Lindsey, don’t you ever get tired of him?“
And she goes: „Yeah.“ But she would never, ever complain.
Trevor is sent to bed without supper as punishment for stealing a few cents. That evening, his whole family dines on poisonous mushrooms and dies, thus setting him on a dishonest course on the basis that cheating pays. Not knowing how to behave any differently, Trevor tells lies to his roommates in the group home, he sends lost tourists in wrong directions, he regularly pees on Mr. Kaminskis prize geraniums, he consumes street art without giving a dime. He gets more and more depressed, until one day he’s struck by a open air drum solo, resulting in a long self-inquiry – whether to stay where he is or to fight his way back into the light – and in an exhausting search for empty buckets.
In a repressive South American country, a CIA agent is held hostage by a left-wing guerilla group. The spokesman of the Guerilleros (glasses) demands the release of 150 political prisoners and shows the negotiator (black wig) what will happen to the hostage if the deal fails: “We will cut his throat, understand, gringo?“
CIA-special-agent Thompson (earphones / micro) is hiding a gun in his puppet and will shoot the spokesman as soon as he gets the green light.
In two seconds the person relaxing on the bench (newspaper) will get the crucial inspiration regarding a chemical formula to turn water into gasoline.
With great expectations, 31-year-old Mathilda leaves her dog and local volleyball club in her home town Grünkraut in Baden-Württemberg to find work as a German teacher in New York. Following an affair with a priggish, rather dull and madly enamored student in her class, she – to avoid further temptation – returns home, disillusioned. Everyone in Grünkraut now learns from Mathilda that existence in the provinces, no matter how hard, is morally superior to that in the cruel dark city.
Carol & the Man From Bermuda
War widow Carol finds solace in the arms of a man from a remote swizzle community in Bermuda, a man she discovers to be her half-brother. They decide to live as a married couple and have children, despite familial ostracism and a term of imprisonment. Of course, being half-siblings removes half of the public concern.
Turtle Mony, complaining about her insufficient mobility and forgetting how annoyingly literal Gods can be, blurts out her wish he could fly. She’s then stunned to realize that she’s suddenly endowed with wings and is about to perform a turtle’s aviator-skills for the first time, when unfortunately a Brachiosaurus runs into her. Of course, Mony’s no more stunned than her discoverer, construction worker Bagwis Ramil, who found the fossil in 1913 while digging the entrance to the subway station on 86th Street.
Ruger feels neglected and unwanted and decides to leave his family. At first, his mother believes this is just a ploy to get attention, and she lets the young man leave, expecting he’ll come slinking back very soon. Shortly afterwards, however, she begins to miss him badly and tracks him down. She discovers he’s doing some magic acts at the basketball field.
A summer’s evening, two dwarfs rest on a fashionable carpet of blossoms. Between mouthfuls of warm air, and over the scrapings of mosquito bites, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays, the challenges of microsomia. But behind the empty words, terrible things are hidden, and with every forced smile and every new scratch, their knifes are being sharpened.
Cabdriver Will Young discovers a moving crosswalk – some kind of vertical escalator. It carries two passengers: British World War II Colonel Wadd Hollingberry – and Meg O’Keefe, Will’s long-lost love. After years held captive by the cold-blooded Hollingberry, Meg has finally consented to her fate and participates in the Colonel’s daily crosswalk-exercise (‚Left leg up! Left leg down! Right leg up! Right leg down!’) Will Young wants his revenge, sets the cab right on the moving crosswalk in an attempt to to stop it, yet he can’t risk putting the only woman he ever loved in danger and continues to drive towards the horizon.
Liang & Qi
Grandpa Liang is very excited about his granddaugher’s sleepover, but Qi – twenty-two, unmarried, attractive … what’s not to like? – collects so many friends along the way that soon it’s a big squash in Grandpa’s small apartment. Will he ever get to sleep?
“… on the top of this big white hill in Argentina“, Lorrie says to Claude, “I was breathing deeply. In and out. Big gusts of freezing cold air. My whole body was warm and I didn’t feel the cold at all …“
When Lorrie’s mind is in Argentina, then Claude’s is in Belgium. The day the Germans arrived in Brussels he could hear the bombing. He asked his mother what the noise was, and she replied it was some men working on a garage next door. They fled through France, Spain, Portugal, arriving aboard a Japanese boat – we weren’t yet at war with them.
“… stopped at the bottom of the hill with just a bloody stump for a neck and both arms broken and both legs. It’s true.“
“The American suburbs are a lousy place to raise a child. The illusion of eternal safety and universal happiness is pernicious. That’s true too, Lorrie.“
“What are you saying?“
In his last will – deposited in the filing cabinet of Bartholomew, Kirshenberg & Jennings in Sioux Falls – Chaelogur Williams instructs that his body should be “interred, wrapped only in a sheet, without a coffin, on the top of Harney Peak, the spot to be smoothed over and left unmarked.“
His works Chaelogur bequeaths to the South Dakota Art Museum. “Just to be sure that none of my numerous paintings, conspicuously endowed with soft compassion, and unequaled in terms of harmony and the superiority of my genius will ever go on display.
“Mum says I should always say what I mean and mean exactly what I say.“
“Hell, no, son. Listen. A Poetry Slam. You are standing on a stage. You are about to address a packed audience of swindlers, cowards, bounders, harridans and poetry slammers. You open your mouth to adress them. What do you say? You say: Ladies and gentlemen. Don’t listen to your Mum, son. Don’t attempt to live honestly, for if you do you will experience an unhappy manhood and a lonely old age.“
Look at them! Parents – watching their kids playing basketball. The most charming thing about parents is: they’re so easy to make happy, so easy pleased by their children. In their company the kids enjoy the sensation of being the best of company. With parents, their little jokes, perhaps hardly good enough for the kindergarten, have instant and tremendous success. You can maunder on about what you did and saw either an hour ago or yesterday, it will be received with the same flattering attention. And then how pleasant it is to be treated as a mine of undisputed happiness! Almost any object the children make will delight Mum and Dad: a confusing drawing, a useless box, a bottle filled with dirt and mud, and when it’s delivered from a boy like Wild Rufus anything that bangs, squeaks or toots will do. Children can never foresee what healthy and strengthening seeds they are sowing in their parents’ minds by little acts of kindness and affection. Right?
A Honda full of local rock musicians, groupies, drunken aristocrats and a cocker spaniel, drives from West 4th Street to East 5th Street where the ashes of the world’s greatest death metal piccolo flutist are to be scattered. An obstinate local and his rhinoceros refuse vehemently to let them scatter the ashes in front of their laundry, anxious to turn the place into a fashionable place of pilgrimage.
People are waiting to see the world premiere of a play from the literary estate of Samuel Beckett. It is autumn. The actors are gathering behind the curtain, but their other concerns – will, for example, a picture fall off the Coulisse on to a stagehand’s head? Will the producer’s ruthlessness protect him from his co-producer’s desire for power? – prevent them from playing. Winter comes, then spring. Still the audience waits, freezes, starves. Nobody ever appears on stage.
„I better go to Canada and live in a wooden house, where I carve myself out a fruit orchard from the hillside and the forest. I will have one of the most beautiful views in the world, an open valley and a river winding, with mountains beyond, and a lake just visible in the north and I will build myself a wide window, to look out on three sides.
When my love to an indian woman – painting roundbellied jars baked in a fire of dung – is unreturned and a stroke takes away my open-air life, then I still manage to walk, with a stick to lean on, to the window that looks out on my view. Here, the changing clouds and light of the river fill my mind with pleasantness and lead my thoughts into endless variation.“
As generations before her have discovered, the shortcut to a cool guitar sound is nasty, brutish distortion. The next step is to turn it up a notch and form a band.
“Okay. We’ve done History of Art … and Music … and Lit. Went all right, don’t you think?“
“Oh yes, Ma’am. It was special.“
“Okay then. This afternoon we might go for Political Science and Economics. What do you say?“
“As you like. I think we’re ready for the hard stuff.“
“Good. So let’s take a deep breath and synchronize our watches.“
“Hey, what happened to Karl Marx over there? He looks a little pale …“
“He kind of overdid it at the farewell party last night, they say. He put away a whole gallon of distilled water, leaving him with a whopping hydrostatic headache.“
“And swollen feet.“
Selfportrait – New York and you
Perhaps you’re fond of reading, you’re looking for something in books you don’t find elsewhere, something, that keeps you alive, literally. But it is hard to find – no Vonnegut or Gaddis or even Meier in the school library, and you can’t read Hesse anymore, Hesse’s Scientology for the pathological shy.
It was the cheerless 80’s, Reagan took office and Swiss writers couldn’t publish one sentence without being concerned that his shaky finger would press The Button. Nuclear dread. You try to talk to girls in the Mokka and keep thinking of World War III. People were dedicated to smash apartheid in South Africa while faking their orgasms like Meg Ryan. At least, Rage Against the Machine brought you smoothly into the Nineties, and eventually you go to New York – why not, you say, following a weirdo friend of yours, the only friend you have, he’s also in Helnwein and Edward Hopper. He learned precision engineering and never did it for a living because the only jobs were in the military industry. Integrity. So there you are, 25 years old, standing on the Top of the World Trade Center, desperate and lost, and you realize you came here to press your own button. And somehow dazed and benumbed and overwhelmed by choosing a suicide method out of a thousand in New York (jumping, provoke a cop, strapping a bomb to the chest – or the easiest method: running across Brooklyn Bridge without looking left or right) you strand in Barnes & Noble Book Store, there’s a reading of Kurt Vonnegut going on, you sit by the escalator and get enlightened, and – during the reading? afterwards? – in trance you grab Paul Auster’s „Hand to Mouth“ from the pile, you read the book sitting on the floor in the bookstore, and it blows your mind. You read and you think, it’s great, and I can do that, too! Call it birth or whatever. The back door. A last chance. You fly back, enthusiastic and passionate and petrified the plane won’t make it. You quit university and change town and give yourself three years to come up with something of your own for somebody else than yourself. Something beautiful and Golightly, a gift for humanity.
Of course, when you start writing, you start as a kind of cover band of punks like Daniil Charms or Jane Bowles. Your output is breaking strings and playing out of tune, but instead of getting frustrated or angry, you listen deeper and deeper and create a little work site, a little fiefdom with your sound and line-up. It’s rarely tears of joy, but it’s healthy.
I don’t have a leader in my head – no leader, no bureaucracy. Art is for multiple personalities. If I ever come up with a novel every year, shoot me.
And all the geniuses you meet on the road! They throw in all they have to find their own voice – that, to me, is literature. I worship the mothers who gave birth to Raphael, Matto, Franz, Pedro, Marie-Jeanne, Katharina, Gabriel, Lara, Renato, Elias, Antonio, Nora, King Pepe, Markus, Ursula Timea, José, Heinz, Melinda, Hazel, Franzobel, Peter, Erica, Mr. Werner, Mr. Stadler, Mr. Šalamun, Lorenz, Urs, Gert – I admire them, I really do. Pure inspiration.
Julien, a promising screenwriter, passes through a magic door and lives three different variatons of his life, each of which begins with carrying his computer to Dr. Brendan’s Mac Repair. In the first life – through meeting and falling in love with Dr. Eileen Brendan – he joins the communist party and produces maxims and propaganda for the Occupy movement and is shot as a happy husband and family father with the age of thirty-seven. In his second life he misses Dr. Brendan, starts using the typewriter and ends up writing applications and love letters for analphabets in the streets of Guadalayara in Mexico, dying of pneumonia, aged 46. Lastly, he again misses Dr. Brendan, meets an old girlfriend instead, marries her and becomes a long-living respectable journalist for the Wall Street Journal. A cruel fate awaits his wife and savings.
„Mich interessiert nicht, wie das endet“, sagte Katie und Papa machte: „Puuh!“ Und Ellie am Klavier sagte gar nichts, aber sie war sehr blass, und so gingen sie hinaus und kamen nicht wieder. Und so wissen Flanagans bis zum heutigen Tag nicht, wie die Hindemith-Sonata ausgeht, und es ist ihnen auch gleichgültig, obgleich Ellie immer wieder einmal den Leuten erzählt, wie sie von Vater und Schwester vom Klavier weggeschleppt worden sei. Dass sie selbst beinahe seekrank geworden wäre, das erwähnt sie nicht.
Noah hasst Wasser.
Er kriecht unter den Stubentisch, sobald seine Frau die Antirutschmatte in die Badewanne noppt.
Remix Die Leiden des alten Werther
„Warum guckst’n du so?“
„Ich guck halt.“
„Irgendwas denkst du dir doch dabei.“
„Ich guck nur so.“
„Ich merk doch, dass du dir was denkst.“
„Tu ich aber nicht.“
„Verdammt nochmal, Lotte!“
„Was seh ich?“
„Sonst würdest du es ja nicht so energisch abstreiten.“
„Du machst mich nervös.“
„Dabei hab ich dir gar nichts getan.“
„Hör bitte auf.“
„Hab ich etwa damit angefangen?“
„Du hast dich doch darüber aufgeregt, dass ich gucke.“
„Jetzt bin ich also schuld daran, wenn dich etwas stört?“
„Mich stört ja gar nichts!“
„Und deshalb guckst du so.“
„Ich guck dich halt gerne an! Ich guck, weil du so schön bist!“
„Aha. Und ich dachte, der Werther guckt ’nur so‘?!“
„In Zukunft werde ich woanders hingucken, wenn dir das lieber ist. Siehst du, ich guck jetzt woanders hin.“
„Na toll. Schau ruhig weg, wenn ich mit dir rede.“
Schon oft hat Herr Matzerath bemerkt: Im Wartzimmer vom Hausarzt ist jede Konkurrenz aufgehoben und Feindschaft zwischen den Menschen gibt es keine.
Wir befinden uns auf neutralem Gebiet.
Ganz still ist es nicht: zaghaftes Husten und leises Umblättern. Je schlechter der Zustand der Wartenden, desto leiser ist’s.
Herr Matzerath möchte wachsen. Nun also doch. Sich mit Wachstumshormonen versorgen.
Als er begutachtet wird, erschrickt er: Die Mundhöhle der Assistentin ist rot enzündet und einige Zähne fehlen. Mit einer Hormonbehandlung ist’s nicht getan, denkt Herr Matzerath voller Mitleid. Tauschen möchte ich nicht.
Tablettenschachteln nimmt er heim, die er leeren muss.
Jeden abend knetet er die Tabletten in Fleischkäse und am dritten Tag ist er sich sicher: Fleischkäse hat er sich als Leibspeise für immer verdorben.
Neben ihm im Wartzimmer sitzt Sarah und ist genetisch ein Mann. „Ah, da ist ja die Dame mit den Würmern!“ wird die hereinkommende Dame von Sarah begrüsst. Herr Matzerath ist froh, von einer harmoniegesichtigen Aushilfsassistentin ins Sprechzimmer geführt zu werden.
Der Arzt vermisst ihn.
„Im wartezimmer ist es heute richtig laut“, sagt Herr Matzerath. „Ein gutes Zeichen.“
eines nachts – es war dunkel –
wurde in einem stall ein kindlein geboren
es war magisch
als die kühe am morgen vom kind geweckt wurden
drängte sich die mutter lauthals dazwischen
dreissig minuten später fuhren mutter und kind in der ambulanz davon
am küchentisch des bauern grübelten alle und suchten
einen namen für die kleine
dieser solle mit a anfangen bestimmte der bauer denn
die mutter hiess arilana die bäuerin schlug aschenputtel vor
und als aschenputtel aus der notversorgung zurück war
wurde es sofort der liebling aller mädchen
eines tages – es war hell – meinte der bauer:
wenn aschenputtel gross genug ist gibt es keinen platz mehr
für beide: mutter und kind auf dem hof
es fand sich aber kein käufer was seltsam war denn für arilana
gab es mehrere interessenten aschenputtel war doch jung und süss!
war der preis zu hoch? sah aschenputtel schlecht aus?
der bauer reichte es auf märkten herum doch so sehr er warb
und den preis senkte niemand wollte es kaufen
dabei war es ein traumkind und schrie wenig und hatte
auch sonst kaum macken drei jahre ging der bauer mit aschenputtel
auf märkte und feste doch nur ein fünfjähriger junge aus neuenburg
zeigte interesse an ihr oh ist das ein schönes kind! rief er die mutter
zog ihn weiter und der junge brüllte
dann wurde auf dem hof ein zimmer frei weil arilana starb
aschenputtel bezog zimmer und hinterlassenschaft es
wuchs nach und nach in arilanas sachen und ward ordentlich und gut
Remix Don Quijote
auf seinem feld stehen drei windmühlen der ritter ordnet an
eine abzureißen für zwei ist nicht wind genug ein ritter
duldet keine eigelb- und tomatenflecken im haupthaar ob aber
schuppen ignoriert werden können wurde bisher nicht entschieden
eine nicht nur vorübergehende verhinderung liegt vor
wenn ein ritter infolge todes den ausritt absagen muss
ein ritter übt beim küchenbrand erst den gebrauch der löschdecke
ehe er die löscharbeiten ernsthaft beginnt er betrachtet es als
verstoss gegen die öffentliche ordnung gegen den wind zu spucken
gesetzlich zu verbieten sei es die u. s. a. als amerika auszusprechen
erwischt der ritter den stallmeister beim diebstahl einer seife
muss dieser sich so lange waschen bis die seife aufgebraucht ist
die gemeinde hat dem ritter eine administrative hilfe beizustellen die
ihm die freiheit des kaufens und verkaufens abnimmt
als verstoss gegen die menschenpflicht betrachtet es ein ritter
mehr glück zu verbrauchen als hervorzubringen ein ritter:
ein vertrauenswürdiger zeuge gegen sich selbst
Im Grunde wusste Faust, dass Frauen, solange man sie nicht reizt, nicht angreifen. Er hatte in der Schule, an der Universität, auf Dienststellen mit Frauen zu tun gehabt und war ihnen in der Schlange beim Einkauf dann und wann recht nahe gekommen. Aber eine Frau bei ihm daheim? In der eigenen Wohnung?
Vor allem kam ihm die Frau, die hier in seiner hochgewölbten Wohnung umher ging, gross vor, grösser als die Mehrzahl ihrer Geschlechtsgenossinnen. Faust blieb im Sessel am Pult sitzen und verfolgte angespannt ihren Erkundungsgang. Sie inspizierte die Wohnung gründlich. Zuerst war sie nur im Studierzimmer unterwegs, kreuz und quer, sie kroch unter dem Pult durch (Faust zog die Beine hoch), umkreiste den Sessel (er zog den Kopf ein). Sie verliess das Studierzimmer und ging in den Flur, Faust konnte sie nur noch hören, die Geräusche wurden schwächer, sie musste die Küche erreicht haben. Faust erhob sich und schlich in den Flur, spähte vorsichtig um die Ecke in die Küche, sah die Katzen geduckt am Boden starr in eine Richtung schauen und dort, zwei Meter entfernt, sass die Frau auf der Anrichte. Faust überlegte sich, was die Frau veranlasste, bei ihm auf der Anrichte zu sitzen. Ihm fiel kein vernünftiger Grund ein. Nun gut, die Frau wird schon wissen, was sie hier will. Auf jeden Fall war ihr Verhalten friedlich, so dass weder für seine Katzen noch für ihn selbst eine Gefahr zu bestehen schien. Er ging zurück ins Studierzimmer. Das Streben nach Höherem vermochte aber die Gedanken an den aussergewöhnlichen Besuch nicht zu verdrängen. Was wollte die Frau in seiner Wohnung?
Faust ging zurück in den Flur, bot ihr Kaffee und Tee an, Gebäck und Früchte, ein Kästchen mit geerbtem Schmuck, aber weder nahm sie etwas an noch gab sie Antwort, sie kümmerte sich nicht, hockte regungslos auf der Anrichte. Gern hätte Faust die Wohnung verlassen. Doch seine Befürchtung war, sie könnte auf die Idee kommen, aufzuräumen und für ihn wertvolle, in ihren Augen unnütze Papiere und Tollheiten entsorgen. Also blieb Faust daheim, um mögliche Angriffe auf sein Hab und Gut abzuwehren.
Stündlich wurde die Frau blasser, und es schien ihm, als verliessen sie ihre Kräfte. Sie mühte sich von der Anrichte hinunter und blieb auf dem Küchenboden knien. Faust sah sie traurig an, konnte aber wenig machen. Was war aus dieser temperamentvollen Frau geworden? Vor ihm auf dem Küchenboden kauerte eine sterbende Frau. Schweren Herzens beschloss er, ihrem Leiden ein Ende zu bereiten. Doch wie? Er mochte sie nicht mit blossen Händen erwürgen. Mutlos ging Faust durch die Wohnung auf der Suche nach einem geeigneten Gegenstand, mit dem er das Leben der Frau beenden konnte. In der Besenkammer fand er einen alten Schrubber mit sehr kurzen und harten Borsten, dieser erschien ihm noch am besten geeignet. Zumal Faust durch den langen Stiel des Schrubbers nicht so nahe an die zu tötende Frau herangehen müsste. Und daher, hoffentlich, das Splittern ihres Schädels nicht würde vernehmen müssen. Mit dem Schrubber in der Hand trat Faust in die Küche. Die Frau kauerte am selben Platz. er baute mich vor ihr auf. In Gedanken bat er sie, aufzustehen und die Wohnung zu verlassen, doch nichts geschah. Sie kauerte regunglos.
Also muß es wohl sein. Faust hob den Schrubber, als die Frau ihren Kopf hob, ihn ansah und zum ersten Mal das Wort an ihn richtete. „Nun sag, was bedeutet dir die Zweisamkeit?“, fragte sie mit leeren Augen. „Du bist ein kluger Mann, aber ich glaube, du hältst nicht viel davon.“
Faust wich zurück. Er ließ den Schrubber sinken und ging beschämt ins Studierzimmer. Dort liess er sich in den Sessel fallen und begrub das Gesicht in beide Hände. Mein Gott, wie sie mich angesehen hat! Dann sah er die Frau über die Schwelle ins Wohnzimmer kriechen. Gebannt sah er zu, wie sie sich langsam, aber zielstrebig auf den Balkon zubewegte. Erleichtert sprang Faust auf, um ihr die Tür zu öffnen und ihr über die Brüstung zu helfen.
Grandpa intends to give his three grandchildren a medicine to cure their growing pains, but he accidentally gives them the Restless-Childhood-potion. Now Kaiden, Cheryl and Lori won’t be able to stop running and jumping until adulthood unless they are kissed by a sufferer of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Grandpa advertises for fatigue syndrome sufferers in the newspapers, but the ad only moves Mr. Jarrett, an out-of-Chronic-Fatigue jazz pianist from Oxford Township, New Jersey.
Frederick Dillingham rearranged the park’s trees to provide his bride Lizzy with adequate shade.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam (Daniel Radcliffe) and Eve (Kathy Bates) are happy until he is tempted to bond her on an apple box in the forbidden apple juice factory. Despite some good acting of Radcliffe and Bates, this version of Genesis creates an exodus of audiences.
„I joined the Air Force shortly after receiving my MBA, and ended up at Hurlburt Field, Florida. When I went home on Christmas leave that year, Dad seemed more tired than usual. But he was still his sweet self and the night I had to go back to Florida, he asked me about the Service in detail. He also talked about Vietnam, all the death and destruction he saw, how afraid he’d been, and how guilty he’d felt to survive. For those few hours I think I got to know him better than in the previous two decades. I kissed him on the cheek, said goodbye, and flew back to my base. Some days later I got a phone call from the neighbors. My father had died in his sleep, apparently of a heart attack.“
You may not be there yet. But you’re closer than you were yesterday.
„I want to become a nun.“
„What are you talking about?“
„I have made up my mind. I will make a very good nun.“
„What a waste!“
„At least I won’t have to put up with the likes of you.“¨
„Oh, shut up. I have no major sins to confess.“
„Look, these empty streets – I always try to attach some divine importance to this random acts. What could God possibly be telling us?“
„It’s Labor Day, come on. If you’re going to a monastery …“
„You surely are blessed by God and all the saints, but you are destined for secular greatness.“
„You could join me.“
„So what are you going to do with your life?“
„You know, my dream has always been to become a stay-at-home-mom. Without kids.“
“No, no, guys, I’m telling you how it is. It’s a very sad thing when Norma gives birth to another child. We wear special black clothes and black jewellery, the kids use special fonts for e-mails, nobody goes to parties or concerts. I mourn the longest because I am the saddest. I mourn for twelve months, then she gives birth again and it starts all over again. I tell you, guys, it’s bad luck to keep a fertile woman in the house. Put that down for a second, will you? I told her: Seven is more than enough, angel, I’m an old man, honey, take a rest, for Christ’s sake. And know what? She got very frustrated, my little pumpkin, she tried everything to entice me to mate again. She hired a quartet of four horns from Birdland to play B-Flat in unison, which is the nearest approximation to the whale’s mating call. No, I’m serious, they blew hard and long, but I remained as firm and frigid as Lonesome George out there on Galapagos. Now it’s up to Norma to mourn, but tell me, guys, what are these things for anyway?“
Jerry has always dreamed of retiring before the age of forty and then running for mayor. Now, thanks to a lucrative bet on the stock market, he’s reached his goal at thirty-nine. His parents thinks it’s ridiculous to stop working at such a young age, but Jerry does it anyway. Immediately he sets about acquiring a suit and a First Lady. Internal squabbles in his party and inadequate scratching during vote electioneering events lead to a disastrous first campaign.
When Wulf sees a tin can, he must play football with it. A poster: he pulls and shreds it. He has to catch every fly.If a boy is perfectly friendly with him, he must give him a kick or pinch him, and the next moment they begin to twist the arms and wrestle. Wulf can’t sit next to someone in the subway without ramming his elbow into his side.
We don’t believe he’s bad. It’s an energy thing.
A Car Full of Children
Mom took the cookie box and threw it into the backseat. We all attacked the cookie box. Dad was calm like Cape Canaveral on Countdown. We were fighting over the cookies, shoving them into our mouths, cookies flying everywhere. Dad drove the car into the yard and parked, and I thought he had probably finished calculating the depreciation on his car.
His life is mostly made up of serious business, and it’s not often you see him laughing, and I guess a car full of dogs and children is a challenge way too big for him to smile.
Simon gets some audible laughs, looks up frequently from the papers without getting lost, and finishes on time to respectful applause. Nuyorican Poets Cafe ’s Master of Ceremonies briefly clasps him on the shoulder in a kind of victory gesture. Simon follows his writer-in-residence-fellow Julien to the Dorian Gray Pub (Tonight: Writer’s Special – free drinks when you can name fifteen writers on the portraits on the wall. A task so easy that it hurts). Julien compliments the waitress on her hair, orders chicken wings and shepherd’s pie and talks about the fifty shapes of pipes of Saint-Exupéry and Sartre. He doesn’t say a word – not one bad or mean word – about the reading. It is Simon’s most hormonal night in NYC so far.
Dad’s Words of Wisdom
Son, every man has a mountain and a harbor in his life – the mountain he is supposed to climb, and the harbor, such as his family, the bar and the fisher club to hide in when he betrays, or has been betrayed by, his ambition.
Susan is a wedding photographer. Every week she does up to ten brides and grooms, hoping to catch moments when the couples not only seem happy but really are. One day, Susan falls madly in love with the bride Penny. While her brand-new husband is away on a business trip, Susan can’t resist any longer and wooes her. The problem lies in the fact that greater wooers, such as Penny’s wedding dress couturier, florist, jewelry vendor or her husband’s barber, do the same sort of thing much better.
Leon & Wen
In 2019, the United States are a troubled country, partitioned between Tsarist Russia, creditor China and the re-established Habsburg Empire. The Russian sector suffers most from oppression, and it is there that a group of New Yorkers manufacture a bomb and plot to assassinate the Tsar’s governor. Leon and Wen suffer a breakdown after they fail to carry out the assassination. If only we’d done things differently, they think. They wish they’d get another chance. When the subway arrives, they discover their wish has come true. It’s the governor’s train, he’s drunk and upset, and the bodyguards refuse to leave the carriage with him – and for Leon and Wen it’s time to get it right this time.
“Do you know anything about lice?“
“Lice. Get in your hair and eat your skin and suck your blood and make you itch.“
“Like nits or something?“
“What’s a nit?“
“Yeah. Except on a smaller scale. Almost microscopic. With legs and red heads. They twitch when you grab hold of them. I can show you one if you want to see it.“
She picks at her head, gets hold of a small bug and hands it to her girlfriend.
“You got these all over?“ She hands the bug back to her.
“I don’t want it back.“
“Well, I don’t want it.“
“Throw it on the floor.“
That’s what she does.
“I’m paralysed, you know. I don’t know what to do because they’re all over my head and under my arms and everywhere. I can’t scratch myself right in the middle of the street. Are you listening to me?“
Mr. Goethe, get to the point.
Jim the dancer feels like a kid again thanks to getting paid almost as much as his pocket money used to be.
I consider myself a connoisseur on coffee hangovers.
Sonny would make any sacrifice in the world for his dad. Coming up with seventy dollars for two tickets for The Lion King on Broadway meant forgoing a lot of comforts, as well as selling some of his Hot Wheels, robots, dinosaurs, dragons, bottle caps and Manga comics. But he would do it again in a heartbeat.
„Speaking of mothers, I should add that I didn’t make contact with my birth mother until I was in my thirties.“
„Her name was Gretta and it wasn’t easy tracking her down. when I spoke to this stranger for the first time, I said: ‚This may be very difficult for you to hear and most difficult for me to say, but does July 16, 1970, mean anything to you?‘ After a very long silence she said: ‚Well, not really.‘ And then she said good-bye and hung up.“
„What a rude person.“
„No. If I heard anything in her voice, it was shock. I sat down and wrote her a three-page letter, giving my life history and adding that I was only looking for biological and historical information I could share with my daughter.“
„You wanted much more. You wanted to know why you’d been given up for adoption. You wanted to know something wasn’t wrong with you.“
„Gretta called me after she received my letter and gave me the true story. She said she had never wanted to give me away, but her father had insisted.“
„What about your father?“
„He was an Italian with whom she’d had an affair. He had disappeared from her life, and Gretta already had another child to care for. To this day Gretta and I are in contact by phone, and I’ve had many visits with her, my half-brother, and the three daughters she raised with her second husband.“
„Do you like them?“
„They are all kind, wonderful people. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I’d been raised with them.“
Bryan never learnt to yell „STAY!“ to objects that keep falling down.
An adulterous wife and her impoverished lover consider the murder of her rich husband, but he dies – by accident – and they have to live with the guilt of their intention. After a quarrel she leaves home and decides to go and live on a Kibbutz in Israel. Her lover goes after her with the intention of robbing her. But at Newark Liberty International Airport her suitcases and purses are already stolen and the two are forced to hitchhike back home.
Ms. Burnette – she’s the boss. Let’s say she’s the manager of the Burnette Shampoo Factory in Half Hell, North Carolina. Phil is one of Ms. Burnette’s employees. The bathtub is her office; ashtray, no-slip rubber mat, three telephones out of range – she’s a bit of a big fish in a small pond. She sends for Phil: maybe she’s going to fire him, maybe she’s going to promote him, maybe she has a complaint – or a compliment – Ms. Burnette doesn’t know yet. The scene starts with Phil knocking on the bathroom door, scared, not sure what to expect.
Telephone conversations provide a handy and informal way of doing work on dialects for an actress. The phone rings and Norma Jeane answers, having a conversation in Posh English with a market researcher. As soon as she hangs up, the bell rings again. Dialects and accents Norma Jeane uses include: Cockney, Scottish, Welsh, Birmingham, American (several kinds), West Indian, African, French, German, Italian and Russian.
She’s so talented that the market researcher Ben Hartley calls her again and tells her: „Mrs. Jeane, I don’t think of you as an actress – you’re better than that!“
„Masculinity, you know – being athletic, being the breadwinner, problem solver, stoical leader and fearless warrior, making and keeping lots of money, having power and authority, confidence, a sense of humor, being rational and not overly emotional, being competitive and successful and achieving on every level, being a sexual stud as well an empathetic lover, a responsible and loving father, and a family’s provider and protector – there’s no other option than masculinity to respect yourself and to win the respect of other.“
„Darling – you claim to have all these qualities?“
„I always thought I’m supposed to have as many as possible.“
„So how do you feel about your failures?“
„That’s just one of the things men don’t like to talk about.“
„They prefer to wander into a bar to escape their feelings and pick up a mysterious married woman.“
„You’re a femme fatale, you know.“
„I’m a nightmare, darling.“
„Men have no shortage of nightmares in their lives.“
Pigeon Joe gets conked on the head by a brick causing him several psychic disorders. He falls in love with the Dragongirl passing by, in true life Ms. Flavia Czekala.
Flavia has difficulty accepting Joe’s advances, and when the pigeon pilfers a pair of glasses from an exhibition of Japanese handcraft – claiming they were stolen from Dragongirl some adventures ago, she climbs into bed and stays there. Perhaps she will be able to sort out a non-violent solution to the pigeon-dilemma. The Japanese government treats the incident as a prelude to economic boycott if the glasses are not returned and the pigeon is not neutralized within twenty-four hours.
A Woman Reading
An alcoholic writer leaves rehab determined to kill himself, but decides to find out first wether there is any book that might give him reason to change his mind. There isn’t, but suddenly he notices a woman reading. Some odd physical sensations make him follow her discreetly. He rents an apartment close to hers and observes her. When she senses something strange going on and starts behaving edgily and scared, he calmly withdraws and shoots himself through the heart.
Agnetha & Briddie
Some years ago, on a bright friendly day, the two daughters of an American real estate magnate of Dutch origin were kidnapped by a huge woman equipped with a chloroform-soaked towel. In a secret valley Agnetha and Briddie are introduced to a clan of the hairy inhabitants of the inhospitable alps, where they learn to sleep in caves and digest granite. Agnetha and Briddie teach the savages to speak, tell them stories about housing construction and insist on polite manners.
Denise & Hank
Denise picks up two bicycles one Sunday, they ride them to the East River Promenade, and hide them in Rutgers Park.
“We should put them back in the same street “, Hank says.
“Why?“ Denise asks. “We were fortunate to find them unguarded and unlocked. We will keep them, and ride about New York.“
“They might be recognized.“
Denise shrugs her shoulders. “If they are, we will say that we found them abandoned and took charge of them. It is the truth anyway.“
They go for rides up and down the streets, pedalling through hideous Upper East Side or Tribeca, slipping perilously between the rushing monsters that thunder along the streets, ignoring traffic lights, riding fast and furious, crouched low over bent handles. Denise goes fastest, never experiences fear. Once Denise’s wheel is buckled, she leaves the bike on the curb and boards a bus, a day later she has picked up another.
As an aging gentleman Hank will settle himself at a table in a pavement café. He will start writing his memoirs, beginning with what he felt for Denise, the affection and admiration that never went away.
Leah’s parents surprise everyone by calling it quits after thirty-seven years. Sidney leaves Kimberly because she makes him feel insignificant – he says, she just wants someone to pay the car insurance and find her glasses. Leah has a hard enough time dealing with her parents’ separation, but then they start drinking in public. Worst of all, they seem to be enjoying it.
Riding the Elevator Into the Sky
As the fireman said:
Don’t book a room over the fifth floor
in any hotel in New York.
They have ladders that will reach further
but no one will climb them.
As the New York Times said:
The elevator always seeks out
the floor of the fire
and automatically opens
and won’t shut.
These are the warnings
that you must forget
if you’re climbing out of yourself.
If you’re going to smash into the sky.
Anne Sexton, Riding the Elevator Into the Sky (1975)
When it’s time to replay the day, taste is the name of the game.
More Change for More People.
American blended milk. The milk that goes with the way we live.
Sugar: Only 18 calories per teaspoon, and it’s all energy.
Flintstones Vitamins – Never did a vegetable give you all this.
“You’re kidding! She’s really an orphan?“
“You bet, sweetheart. She came over on the last babylift in 1975.“
“That’s amazing! A Vietnamese orphan writing about stray shopping carts in our country. What a psychoanalytical thrill!“
“So what are you’re going to do with it?“
“Read it, sweetie, I’m going to read it.“
Collins steals some important documents from the crooked businessman-husband of Helena, and flees to the subway where he lives in the labyrinthine passages with various other outcasts. He has many adventures before meeting Helena again, including a beat-box competition, imprisonment in the canalisation, rainfall in the underground and a chess duel with the devil. When Helena turns away to leave him again – with the returned documents in her hands – Collins sticks a GPS-tracker on her handbag so he will find her on all dark paths where her husband might take her along.
An angel swoops down and with a great flapping and rustling of unfeathered wings settles himself on the bridge only two steps away from Mark and Rob. It sends a cold shiver down their spine. They look at each other. The angel is the same size as an ordinary man and starts to preen his breast. Mark edges closer to him until he is well within grasping distance. And still the angel doesn’t move. He looks directly at Mark through large ringed eyes that give him a somewhat idiotic appearance. After examining Mark carefully for some seconds he goes on preening himself, quite unconcerned. When Mark reaches out and grabs his neck, the angel gives a cry and struggles to free himself. Rob catches hold of his body while Mark wrings his neck. The angel goes limp and is dead in less than a minute.
They lay him down on the ground, when a flapping sound makes them turn round in time to see a second angel settling himself calmly in the same spot on the bridge as his companion. They are astounded. How can they be so stupid! In reply to his unasked question Mark shrugs his shoulders and says: “Try, but it doesn’t matter.“
He doesn’t fly away and a few minutes later the boys have a second dead angel – one each now. They are elated. Sadly, the angels have no feathers at all – otherwise the boys’ Indian headdresses would have grown to mammoth proportions.
“Sometimes, when Nancy was light-headed from the root beer, she’d tell me filthy jokes and then she’d begin to, you know, caress my beard.“
“Maybe she had a thing about beards. Did she tell jokes about them?“
“Yes! All of them, evil jokes!“
“Tell me one.“
“You mean one of her beard jokes? Oh it’s stupid! Well – but it’s so stupid. One time there was a woman who was all lopsided. Her ears were set wrongly, and her nose was where her mouth should be and vice-versa. So this woman meets a Byzantine soldier, oh no. I could never understand why she found it so funny.“
“Mabel wants my cheeks to be smooth. I’m not a hairy guy …“
“I’m not either. Nancy’would tell me about the Byzantine men and how bearded some of them were, awesome, and how it made her hot to think about them.“
“… And I say: ‚Sorry, Mabel, I forgot to shave’, because I forget to shave regularly. I shave, and it seems like only a matter of days …“
Sam & Eugene
The everyday life of a happy couple – Sam works for a printing firm, Eugene helps distributing Rollerblades around the world – is disrupted when they find they have won in the lottery but Sam lost the ticket in the trash.
Emmett has sixteen different numbers for his family of three, but no one ever answers the phone.
Zion & Lisa
Zion saves Lisa’s life in the gym by lifting the barbell from her throat. They immediately become close friends. He agrees to go for a walk with her, but Lisa discovers that Zion walks at a different pace, and Zion discovers that Lisa is working as a, uh, Starbucks district manager. Will Lisa learn to walk faster? Will Zion get over his women-pursuing-a-career prejudice? Will they find happiness?
A prosperous real estate owner decides to declare that his ground and property belong to the Republic of Cuba because he believes the threat of terrorism will be less there. The family, wishing to remain on American soil and not to lose their share of the father’s wealth, apply to the court to have him committed to a mental asylum.
“Dear Diary, yesterday it was time for the Phoniatrics Research Clinic’s annual mixed doubles tennis tournament, and the men were all eager to be paired up with Loreen, who made Phil the champion last year. The partners were randomly selected, and unfortunately for Tom, Phil got Loreen again, and Tom had to settle for – uh, oh – me. You know, I’d been taking lessons, but I would have had to be Martina Navratilova to please my victory-hungry boyfriend. I double-faulted twenty-eight times, we were eliminated in two straight sets. This morning he was almost crying and refused to get out of bed – his muscles were sore, he claimed. Tom’s a delicate guy, and even in the Phoniatrics Area this isn’t fashionable anymore.“
Scott & Louie
Louie has had an ominous dream: that Scott will vaporize at 7 pm after a series of bizarre events. Of course, Scott doesn’t believe in that kind of thing, until, one by one, Louie’s ridiculous predictions start coming true: He hits a pillar with the fire engine, a private investigator tells him his estranged father in New Mexico has been looking for him, and finally he gets very solemn when – as predicted by Louie – a Swedish sociologist wants to interview him about American class structure and the role of firefighters in it.
“What shall we do, Scott? Five minutes, for God’s sake! It was just a dream!” Louie shouts.
“I don’t run“, Scott says calmly. “At least I’ll know. Life after death – all those kinds of questions.“
Like all writers, Prospero is indefatigable in his efforts to find new sources of income. One principal method he recently employed to exploit the family: the revival of obsolete medieval practices. In feudal Spain every landowner of a certain standing had been required to do a caballero’s service for the King in war, or to pay a fee if he could not. This practice, to the acute annoyance of Prospero’s family members, is now revived and all sons and nephews who reach their 13th year are required to receive – or, as his son Raul puts it, endure – knighthood, paying the necessary fee to exempt them from taking dictations or doing investigation services. Naturally Prospero collides with his sons Raul and Amadeo and with his nephews Mano, Ryan, Gabriel, Daniel, Esteban and Jack, and he also collides with the Police.
Juanito Marcello Jones
It is said that on just one night of his life Juanito Marcello Jones slept alone, though the point is disputed.
The Town’s Landmark
“And on your right, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Statue of Liberty.“
“The Statue of Liberty! Really! O, pinch yourself, Josh, pinch yourself!“
“Before I drop you back at the harbor, I want you to know that never before have I had the pleasure of conducting such a lovely group of Texans, ever. Welcome to New York and, as the old saying goes: Don’t do anything Jesus wouldn’t have done.“
“You do that very well, young man.“
“Thank you, Sir.“
“Who taught you?“
“The love for my fellow men? A Brasilian nun. An intimate friend.“
“I suppose you meet many women in your line of work?“
“Oh yes, many, many. But never I met such a pretty one as you.“
“Hear that, Josh?“
“I bet he says that to all of them.“
“Sorry, guy – what’s your name again?“
“Jamal, right, I don’t want to sound superior because I’m from Texas but, you see, you have your tribal customs up here and I’m sure I don’t want to know anything about them. But for rednecks like us, well, things are very different.“
“Sir, there is a local song which goes – now please repeat after me: You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals …“
“So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.“
“Do like they do on – oh, Josh!“
“A woman has her limits, Jamal.“
“Never mind, Sir. Here we are, Battery Park, now would you please …“
Stan doesn’t just sleepwalk. He also sleep-works, sleep-raises children and sleep-plays contrabass like no other. He dreams big plans that never come to fruition. When he retires he seems to think that true retirement means being as active as humanly possible. His sloth-paced lifestyle accelerates to a Bolt-pace. He starts talking in a fast auctioneer-like manner, but when he makes attempts to motivate his sons, they just doze off. Finally, the reawakened old-timer leaves for Europe to participate in competitions for speed-bass players.
E. T. Returns
E. T. (1982): A meek little boy (Elliott) finds a stranded extraterrestrial. He has to find the courage to defy the authorities to help the alien return to its home planet.
E. T. Returns (2012): Elliott, a teacher in his fifties and an aloof non-conformist, disrupts a private Jesuit college where his pupils are unteachables from rich families. Elliott links up with the returned E. T. to turn the school play (The Visit) into a weapon of subversion and ends up taking control of the college. However, E. T.’s career in outer space causes conflicts with his wives, who would prefer him to pay more attention to his domestic duties.
“Mike, what are you doing up there?“
“Digging a hole.“
“Hm. It doesn’t look like the right place for digging, Mike.“
“Dig a hole, a hole to be free.“
“Well, it’s been a hard day, I’m going back to my lady. Mike? Hm … Forget it. By the way, if you want some cards for the game tomorrow, just let me know. So long, boys.“
“Dan? Have you seen Mike lately? Was up there on the scaffold yesterday. Chang, De Soto, seen Mike? Yes, I know he claimed – but it would be hard to explain, right? Never mind. As my lady says: God gave us brains to confuse us.“
Karen & Niccolo
Niccolo, a 44-year-old Hollywood-divorced film director is searching for a particular female cast for his next feature film. He and Marvi, a young actress and his enigmatic step-sister, argue about funding and he loses track of her. He then takes up with Ida, an innocent and plain typist from Oklahoma, who is dreaming of romance and becoming a movie star, but their collaboration ends up in a controversy about the look-at-herself-naked-in-the-mirror-scene. He claims that pubic hair is not in itself obscene, but she returns to the office anyway. After experimenting with digital special effects techniques, he returns to the idea of a real actress. But where to find one? One day, he finds a group of Dutch singing and throwing a wild party in his apartment. Karen, an 18-year-old, rebellious but aimless school dropout from Haarlem, is cast right away.
At the day’s shooting Karen gets lost in preparing her costume, and Niccolo’s attempts to bring tranquility and creative flow to the set are fraught with difficulties.
R2-D2 looks at the girl’s leg and manipulates it gently. The girl shakes her head and looks to be in pain.
“Not many journeys the leg will go“, Yoda says.
R2-D2 explains to the girl in bleep-bleep what he wants to do, a fairly complicated explanation that taxes the girls intellectual ressources to the extreme.
“Fix the bone, R2-D2 has to“, Yoda says.
R2-D2 is beeping.
“No! Try not! Do or do not. There is no try.“ Yoda comes with wet towels, cotton wool and bandages. While he holds her leg, R2-D2 sets to work. This done, the patient is put back on her feet, und supplied with a cigarette. She behaves very well, behaving as though she has been in captivity for years. Most Americans have the strongest possible views about bandages, splints, and other accoutrements, and no sooner do you put them on, than their one ambition in life is to get them off again as quickly as possible.
So R2-D2 and Yoda are surprised and pleased when the girl seems to take the whole thing calmly and philosophically like a Parisian existentialist.
“I wonder what it’ll be like, when the bandage is removed and the bone should have healed“, the girls says.
“A corkscrew it probably look like“, Yoda says.
As the Kelleys from Utah enjoy their vacation in the Big Apple, Mr. Ethan Kelley is imagining what his life might have been like if he had married someone else. He still sees himself married to a blond sports teacher, but it’s not Mia anymore, but Abigail Fox! Does Ethan have a secret desire for his wife’s colleague? Of course not, because, while he imagines himself married to Abigail, his fantasy woman is still Mia. Mr. Ethan Fox and Mia relish a passionate inconspicuos affair, with three golden daughters resulting from it.
„C’mon, Marv, don’t be a prick. It’s a wonderful morning! Seize the day! The sun is beaming, the breeze is murmuring, and the flowers are pushing their dainty heads toward the heavens.“
„How’d you know that, Roscoe? Got any windows in front of your desk, ey? Did you push your dainty head through the wall?“
Wing needs stuff for the school’s flea market, but her Daddy doesn’t let her take the frogs, although she already painted a wonderful ad saying: “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a handsome prince. $0.50 a kiss.“
Unknown to Wing her father disguises himself as a mute Yeti, which causes trouble when Wing trades him to another student, whose father wants to send him on a scientific mission to a governmental laboratory.
Shima and Jayden
Shima, who desperately wants to marry Jayden, resorts to a Shaman’s spell after procuring the necessary talismans from Jayden – a dreadlock, a piece of toe nail and a small circle of fabric from his shirt. Shima recites the Shaman’s chant: “O great space where spirits dwell, hear thee now my magic spell. Hair and nails and cloth of loom make Jayden be my groom.“
Shima’s mother warns her that only bad will come of this, but Shima ignores her. Consequently Jayden is in for some painful experiences: Every time Shima coughs, Jayden is hit by a baseball. Shima recants: “Hear my shame, return the spell from whence it came …“
Spiderman is super-strong. Spiderman has super-senses. Watch him cling to ceilings using only his fingertips. There’s no other man like Spiderman. Never fear, Spiderman’s here. He puts crooks in a well, and rescues old farts from the busy street. But who will come to Spiderman’s rescue, when he’s crushed by the wicked crowd?
Mr. and Mrs. Wong-Kim
The MTA is blasting their way through Manhattan schist to build a subway line on Second Avenue. Unfortunately, at 60 feet under daylight, the tunnel runs straight through Mr. and Mrs. Wong-Kim’s living room. The couple has never questioned their accommodation situation, but now they must answer to the security obligations of MTA. What do two people do when they find themselves at the crossroads of public needs and their hearts desires?
An amazing six-month-old wrestling wizard becomes a national hero at the Olympics in the Greco-Roman wrestling competition, but quits when his pre-school work suffers and he still can’t even sign autographs.
Emeritus Professor Liam McWorther gives a lecture to some senior African-History freaks, and mentions that explorer and medical David Livingstone is his personal hero. Before he can say “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?“, McWorther’s standing in front of the missionary martyr – and is delighted. He thinks this is the greatest thing his student and senior magician Steve Valentine’s ever done. McWorther tells Dr. Livingstone about certain things concerning the sources of the River Nile, but when the Professor dares to say Livingstone’s expeditions were hardly models of order and organization, Dr. Livingstone decides McWorther’s a Catholic spy and should therefore travel back as fast as possible. Unfortunately magician Valentine passes away in the same moment, and Livingstone’s Victorian key doesn’t fit the keyhole of the Magic Door of Space and Time.
Businessman Sergei lives a pleasant life with his wife and his bedridden father until he becomes haunted by a nightmare in which he sees a woman strangled in his office. One day, on his way out of the building, he crosses the path of the woman in his dream and follows her back to the elevators. She disappears, but he recognizes a security guard as the killer from his dream. Within thirty minutes Sergei will wind up implicated in two murders, with the NYPD chasing him.
Casper, jealous that his roommate Priscilla is going on a sailing date with a glamorous TV series star, he deduces that if he were a series star, Priscilla would take him on a trip too. He lands a screen test and does surprisingly well, only to discover that ghosts don’t show up on film.
Car & Bike
While trying to patch up a tiff between some tightly parked cars on the opposite side of the street, Ford Ricky and Star Bike Dusty start a battle of their own. Ricky mumbles ominously, but Dusty gives him the cold shoulder. The street light offers them advice on how to get back together: by saying ‚I’m sorry’.
Ford Ricky: He said I look fat and ridiculous. He said I look like the death of a salesman in the Seventies.
Street light: Dusty, apologize!
Star Bike Dusty (to Ricky): I’m sorry you look like the death of a salesman.
„Hey, Sheik – want to go get some coffee?“
„Leave me alone, willya? I don’t have time for coffee! Pre-med students never do, man!“
„You know, you’re a lot of fun, Sheik.“
„Life is a savage, serious business, and I’m just trying to get on with it before it turns on me and cuts me to pieces!“
„Look, Sheik. All I’m trying to say is that by taking nothing but pre-med courses, you’re missing out on the real value of a liberal arts education. History, Ethics, the works.“
„That’s ridiculous, man!“
„Preparing yourself to be a doctor shouldn’t preclude developing yourself as a person. A good doctor is more than just a technician – he’s a f*** humanist.“
„A doctor needs skills! I’m not going to indulge in intellectual finger-painting! My future patients deserve better, man!“
At first Luis refuses to have anything to do with Concha’s tragic play for the amateur theatre group ‚An Orchid Grows in Puerto Rico’, but on opening night he finds out that a Broadway producer will be attending the performance. By then, of course, another person has taken the lead. That doesn’t stop Luis. He joins in the action, hoping to impress the Broadway bigwig. ‚Orchid’ legend has it that Luis improvised much of the clowning in the street fighting scene because his foot accidentally got caught in the fire extinguisher, but Concha says that Luis made it look accidental on purpose.
Eventually ‚An Orchid Grows’ will be put on stage on Broadway, but its setting moves from the shanty town of San Juan to a palazzo somewhere in romantic Italy.
Holman is dying to get a good look at his new neighbor’s apartment. His wife won’t let him creep down the fire escape to get a good peek, but that doesn’t mean he can’t set foot in the flat with the help of the electrical screwdriver. When he overhears the neighbors rehearsing for a Stand-up Comedy exercise, he thinks they’re plotting to overthrow the government.
In 1971, Dao-Ming Lee, the black sheep of a Chinatown clan, took her son and hid him in the mountains of British Columbia to avoid his draft. She eventually amassed a fortune by smuggling dope across the border between Canada and Idaho. Parlaying her wealth into a laundry empire, Dao-Ming also created the virtual laundry-folding game Min-Cai (quick wealth), with millions of players around the world.
Mr. Kapoor’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. He calls friends and family and asks them, patiently and politely, whether they’ve seen it. Everyone says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as he is beginning to lose hope, sitting on an empty flowerpot in despair, the deer’s antlers at the wall ask a rather obvious question that suddenly sparks Mr. Kapoor’s memory and leads his search to the bottom of the kingsize flowerpot.
Donald is a successful Front Desk Clerk, but there are things in his life that he doesn’t want made public. And even though he’s traveled the world, he still thinks about that weekend he spent in Sag Harbor on Long Island, and the girl he met there. Those days should have changed his life forever, but they didn’t. When Donald learns that his father wants to move to East Hampton and is planning to remarry, he decides it’s time to return, not just to investigate his future stepmother, but finally to fulfill the promise he made all those years before. Although the times, when oxytocin levels were extremely high, are long gone.
Ben Lincoln Kesling is the great-great-great-grandson of a former President of the United States. He’s been on the run ever since the day of his wedding – instead of saying “I do“ to Lady Irresistible, Ben fled the church on a Raleigh-Bike. After a flat tire he accepted a ride from a stranger (an incredibly handsome, mysterious woman on a motorcycle) and began a new phase of life that he never expected. The fiancee married Ben’s best-shaved friend.
Rita and Lettie
Rita is a swine flu researcher struggling to lead a healthy life. Lettie, her reprobate sister, is a teacher turned National Socialist over night. When Rita refuses an offer of marriage from a powerful biotech scientist and Lettie’s political views catch up with her, the two sisters are forced to choose between loyal togetherness and the loneliness of the long distance walkers.
When everything stops because of the heat, Tony Olivero refuses to let the weather spoil his fun. He embarks on a cool journey, riding a polar bear, seeing elves and fairies, breaking the moon into four pieces with the help of father christmas and scattering presents all over the place with the reindeer that got loose.
Early in the morning four men stop working for a second to celebrate their friend Fu’s recovery from lumbago. Fu strikes a bargain with them. To celebrate his new lease on life, he’ll do the one thing that’s always terrified him: driving the charged forklift himself. But if he does, all of them will also do something they always swore they’d never do. Something that is scary or difficult or that they’ve always said they were going to do but haven’t. Bang, wrapped up in the needs of his family, is challenged not to mention one of them for a whole day. Ji moves from his birthplace to Peru to take over the running of an Avocado company. And Piao tests the limits of his freedom and his language, in a journey that begins with the small but endlessly difficult act of saying „No“.
After global desaster, Marlina receives a text. “Don’t use drugs, don’t use weapons, don’t steal. BolivarJ xxx.“ Marlina doesn’t know anyone with the name Bolivar, so what’s with the smiley face and the kisses? When Marlina, bereaved and traumatised, picks up this message from another survivor, the temptation to find out who else is still alive becomes irresistible. So she changes into hiking boots and marches south to the Rain Forest, knowing that she won’t have enough sense of direction to find her way back. What follows is scarier and more life-affirming than everyone experiences as a backpacker.
It is 2012, the aftermath of sexual liberation, and New York has become a city of nudists. With his wife serving in Afghanistan, Dave is, for all intents and purposes, the model soldier’s husband. But behind this façade is an entirely different Dave, a Dave who dreams of his former Jewish lover, a Dave who is paralyzed by the struggle between fidelity and desire.
Silvester and all his friends love making music and on August 17 they’re going to gather the neighbors. Time to practise, everyone! With all their musical expendables – the ammunition, the knives, the grenades and the triangle – they get a jam going, chink-a-ching, rat-a-tat-tat, doo-ba-be-doo, boom-boom! What a concerto it will be!
Concrete poet Gilles Chevallier is living the American dream, and doing his best not to disturb the Americans. But recently things have been going très wrong. Threatened with book contracts, Guggenheim Fellowship and Green Card, Gilles realises that his Curriculum is seriously on the way to become a tragedy about the trouble you can get into if you’re a French abroad.