104 Slices
Medium 9781609520786

2. The Vectors of Alexanderplatz

Peter Wortsman Travelers' Tales ePub
Medium 9781609520786

4. A Gift

Peter Wortsman Travelers' Tales ePub

A LITTLE PACKAGE ARRIVED IN THIS MORNING’S MAIL that gave me a good deal of delight. It was sent by a corporate lawyer, plump and buttoned-down, very proper-looking in a three-piece suit, who’d approached me to chat over wine and nibbles following the fellows’ presentations at the Academy the other evening. We’d struck up a friendly conversation after discovering our shared fondness for marzipan and those two little cartoon rascals Max and Moritz. The package contained an English translation of the turn-of-the-century cartoonist Wilhelm Busch’s classic compilation of nasty nonsense, popularized in the U.S. as The Katzenjammer Kids, as well as a copy of the nineteenth-century educational children’s classic, Struwwelpeter, the latter translated into English as Slovenly Peter by none other than Mark Twain. Hard to fathom Huck Finn’s confabulator riding the raft of fantasy transplanted from the muddy Mississippi to the Havel and the Spree. Lawyers here apparently still read other things than statutes and legal briefs. Time is not always money in Berlin, sometimes it just ticks.

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Medium 9781609520809

2. Hustle

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Two

Hustle

In good cookeries, all raisins should be stoned.

Amelia Simmons, American Cookery, 1796

On my way back from the Bon March to my studio apartment, Id often make a detour through the Luxembourg Gardens, where children would play with the toy sailboats in the central fountain. Each child would get a short stick and a boat with a numbered sail. Theyd poke their boat with the stick, and off it would float across the rippled surface of the large circular pool. Eventually, their boat would drift back to the edge, coming close enough so they could poke it again. This activity involved a lot of waiting and chasing, because it was impossible to predict when or where your boat would return to the edge. The children were always trying to poke the wrong boat, just because it had drifted close to them.

This is how I feel about romantic relationships. We begin by coveting what we see every day, Hannibal Lecter purred to FBI agent Clarice Starling, whod been visiting him at a prison for the criminally insane. He was correct, but who takes romantic advice from a cannibal serial killer, even if he is a doctor with great teeth? Studies have shown that people tend to date inside a ten mile radius, because theyd rather pretend that proximity is destiny instead of fessing up to being lazy. What happens when the boys go after a girl who accidently drifted within poking range? They take a stab at her, and the girl floats away. The process repeats itself until the pokers get bored and leave.

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Medium 9781609520847

The Road to Wounded Knee

Lavinia Spalding Travelers' Tales ePub

JENNA SCATENA

The Road to Wounded Knee

There is no question that American life is in the process of changing, but, as always in human history, it carries some of the past along with it.

—John Steinbeck

On our way into town we passed billboards offering $6.99 breakfast platters and genuine leather wrangling gloves. Our sixteen-seat puddle jumper had landed not even an hour before, but my mother was already well into her stories of childhood on the prairie. Growing up not far from here, she said, in a single gas station town named Murdo, she and my grandparents had dreamt of thunderheads: black clouds that divined themselves out of indigo and tore across the sky feeding thirsty crops, then disappearing only slightly slower than they’d materialized. Like the work of an angry but loving God.

I saw the eyes before the body: two reflective dots in the dark, one on top of the other. Bump. My mother didn’t see it in time either. A deer.

“It was already dead,” she said. She was sure of it.

We had arrived in Rapid City just as the wide sky faded from purple to black and the tall blonde grass disappeared into the night. After the soothing golden lights of San Francisco, South Dakota felt isolated and cold. I had never been here, but I knew it—if only from the stories passed down from my mother, and its residue in my blood.

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Medium 9781609520588

My Black Boots

James OReilly Travelers' Tales ePub

JULIET EASTLAND

My Black Boots

In her closet hangs a tale of footwear and funny business.

The sun was setting, although it was hard to tell given the neon excrescences sprouting in the foreground—pink winking ladies and glowing palm trees, a crime against nature in the city of sin. I’d been playing slots for hours. I’d lost eighteen dollars in nickels, and I was queasy with fatigue and shrimp cocktail. So this was Las Vegas. Yuck. Only one night, then I’d hit the road for the last chapter of my own, two-week personal cliché: a Cross-Country Drive West. Specifically, I had left Boston (parents, Puritans, too much damn brick) bound for San Francisco (performance art? nudity? mind-altering substances?). Never mind that I’d never visited the city, nor had I lined up an apartment or job. I was twenty-five, and I was ravenous for …something—transformation, adventure. Until now, I’d never traveled this far from home by myself.

Dizzy from the mechanized clangor of the slots, I wandered out along the neon-saturated main strip. Sandwiched between a pawn shop and a convenience store was a shoe store. And there they were in the center window: the boots. My boots—sleek, wicked, inky-black cowboy kickers overlaid with a viridescent sheen, and tapering to a needle-nose point at the toes. I was sure they’d be banned in Boston. Embossed on the sides, heroic western riders lassoed unseen buffaloes. I went into the store, heart jumping, and strode out, two inches taller, reshod and reborn. This was exactly how I wanted to sweep onto the stage of my new life. Don’t mess with me, yo. I gave myself a sultry look in the pawnshop window.

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