Non-Fiction : Sunday Salon

One Day

bougainvilleaBY ANNABEL SMITH

We arrive in the nameless village early, when the morning light is still thick and golden, marred only by the dark smudge of hills on the horizon. Doctors, nurses, dentists, support staff: a team of ten, we’ve flown into the Dominican Republic for a week of one-day stands. Day four, this is our fourth and final village. Like most foreigners, we’ve brought a sense of adventure and spare memory cards. Unlike them, we won’t be staying at luxury resorts or visiting golf courses. We have come to do good, to make a difference.

Our local partners are waiting …

Pinheads No More

The Quest for Punk Rock on the Road to Ruin


The Ramones, Chateau Neuf, Oslo, Norway, August 30th 1980 The Ramones by Helge ØveråsIt must have been ‘89 because I was working at Blockbuster at the time. I remember the oppressive fluorescent lighting, the nauseatingly sweet scent of overly buttered popcorn and, of course, the hideous business casual uniforms—all of these flashbacks pummeled by the screeching tires and gunfire soundtrack of some action movie blaring out of the mounted TVs. Not sure what its hours …

A Report from Kenya: Parsing a Native Son


This piece was written just before the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America on January 20, 2009.

Has Change Really Come?

Thousands crowd around transistor radios in Nairobi and all around Africa from Goma to Mogadishu. Far away in Chicago, a once upon a time “skinny kid with a funny name” stands before an ecstatic crowd. “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible,” he begins, “who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive …

A Cub in Winter


Her skin tells the truth: full, curvesome, with hints of over-ripeness, and yet glorious, glorious. My own skin, alert as a prairie dog.

Those were my salad days, the days of my early summer, they were the days of her early autumn. And it was winter that January, cold, brutal, my first in the realm, tempering the jubilation of an unrepentant ex-acolyte who, by moving to faithless Manhattan, had strained, if not broken, the thick leash of church and home. I needed sex as an aperient, to expunge still powerful strictures from my system. I needed symphonies …

A Day at the Dentist


It’s just after rush hour on a warm July morning and I’m picking up my mother at Grace’s place in Bridgeport. I have to work at five-thirty in Manhattan and I’m praying that the traffic will behave and I will be able to take my mother to the dental clinic at Norwalk Hospital, bring her back to Bridgeport and make it back to the city on time. I drove to my father’s place in Connecticut after work the night before because I am panicked that I’ll miss the appointment, and it makes more sense …

Memento Mori


It’s raining cats and dogs. Thunder, lightening—by California standards, practically a hurricane. The clouds are so thick that even if the sun hadn’t set, it’d be dark. But it has—it’s eight o’clock, so in a sense, it’s twice as black as it’d normally be. Regardless, when Bob Harris gets a call from Long Beach Airport wondering if he’d be interested in flying three people—a man and two women—over to Burbank, five bucks each, he doesn’t hesitate.

“Sure,” he says, and is out the door and on his way in less than five minutes.

Bob’s …

100% Armenian Blood: A Theoretical Performance


I want to set up a stand at Vernissage, the weekend flea-market-cum-craft-fair in the middle of Yerevan, where all the tourists get their Armenian souvenirs, beautifully crafted and sold at rock bottom prices. I will sit at a table, and there will be someone with me in a white coat and a syringe and a tourniquet, sapping red fluid from my arm into tiny vials. I will dab white makeup on my face to appear pallid and there will be a sales rep passing out brochures explaining the prices and the authenticity and the dire …

Idaho Fell

Mormon Tabernacle overlooking Idaho FallsBY JEN HIRT

When I moved to Idaho Falls in August 2005, I couldn’t take my new home seriously. It was a 75-unit apartment complex with a name meant to evoke grandeur and respite: Shadow Canyon. Two-story buildings ringed a parking lot and a grassy area, and tall Ponderosa pines provided the aesthetics that vinyl siding couldn’t. It was within walking distance to the mall, one of two Wal-Marts, and a buffet called Chuck-a-Rama. More importantly, it was within walking distance to a technical college. There, my partner in good times and …

Understanding My Kenya


I have often seen youth as the lyrical age, that is the age when the individual, focused almost exclusively on himself, is unable to see, to comprehend, to judge clearly the world around him… then to pass from immaturity to maturity is to move beyond the lyrical attitude. [Milan Kundera, The Curtain]

I search for meaning everywhere as I try to understand what is happening in my country, Kenya. Lyrical implies something beautiful, pure, good, even. Does it speak for the stage of being that Kenya has gone through, or does it speak for me as an individual, or can I even separate my country from myself as our birthdays …

Giants: Parade or Election?


Monday evening, I was walking down a desolate street, on my way to a church meeting. I heard a boy screaming something in the distance. I saw a couple carrying a box of Pizza from the Pizza parlor from the Main Avenue. Thinking about the New York Giants. My joy for them. My loyalty to New York. But when I heard that their parade would be on election day, my conspiracy theorist personality surfaced. What difference would the parade make on votes? How many would waste much of their day at the parade celebrating only to forget to vote? How many people held the election in the back …

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