Morgan Bassichis
New York City, September 2016

Dear #####,

Your father--my husband--is a kind man. That’s why I married him. As is well-known in my friend circle, I don’t even like the term “husband” given my longstanding criticisms of marriage, gender, etc. but I feel that your behavior has forced me to armor myself with this verbal boundary--my husband--because you seem to be incapable of having any boundaries yourself. You seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to basically ignore me after I come home from a long day of working at the coffee shop (on my website), unable to tear your attention away from my husband, screaming at the top of your lungs about how “Daddy taught me the constellations!” and “Daddy made me almond milk!” (I guess no one cares about the draught anymore?). You seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to urinate on the CB2 rug that my husband purchased, wearing only masking tape and a Batman cape, and laughing. Here’s what you don’t seem to understand: Boundaries are crucial. What would a pool be without walls? What would a straw be without the actual straw? Just spilling a soda or whatever all over your face, that’s what. Just making a mess for someone else (probably your father, but ultimately me) to clean up. I can already feel you distorting this (I would say generous) letter into “evidence” to bring to some kind of Children and Families of Whatever support group that no doubt you’ll be thrilled to attend in 15 years or probably sooner. But I don’t care. I’ve read one too many articles about how unexpressed feelings can cause significant health problems, including digestive issues, which as you know I continue to suffer from. So I’ve decided to be brave, and it feels powerful. When you’re older and can read this, I think it will be powerful for you, too.

I love you,

Lidija Haas
New York City, November 2016

Dear X,

I was asked to write you a letter. Or, asked to write a letter, and it turns out this is the only kind I can write anymore, the petty, ill-judged, inappropriate kind. I’ve written you so many letters and never sent one (fine, only wrote three or four, but that still feels excessive). For this sort of thing—I won’t go into what sort because you wouldn’t like this sort—it seemed wisest not to write anything personal, but then the theme was envy, and as soon as I read that I realized envy is the governing feeling I have had for you or about you. Probably I won’t ever count the ways I envy you, let alone bring them up, if I don’t make myself do it like this, at random.

Do you remember how you asked me to XXXX XX the XXXXXX XXXX XXX at XXXXXX XXXXXXX? I brought it XXXX XXXXXXXX. Do you remember how you told me to put a XXXXX XXXXXX in the XXX when it was empty, and XXXXXX XXXXXXX on XXX, so that no one would think to XXXXX XX without washing it? You are very clean. You don’t seem to resent or even notice the time required to keep things so clean. I envy that as much as anything. Is it because you’re a man? I don’t think so. I know you would think it beneath me to think so, anyway. Life passes and you just accept that much of it is spent scrubbing scum off surfaces or unclogging toilets. I can tell how seriously you take dirt as an enemy because you fetishize it, and other things related to it, in a way I never could. It’s not that dirt doesn’t depress me, by the way, but then everything depresses me. Very few parts of that everything seem worth the time it would take to vanquish them, and dirt is self-sustaining, and I am not.

I envy the way you can XXXX XXXXX XXXX. I envy the way that sex, to you, isn’t different from other things. Well, you prioritize it over other things, maybe, you devote a lot of time to it, but so what—we’ve already covered your unneurotic relationship to time. Sex to you is like cutting cucumbers for a salad, in that it doesn’t occur to you you might not be doing it right. Whereas for me even salad involves performance anxiety. You’ve made fun of me for it at least once—said I had no business writing novels till I’d figured out cucumbers. Maybe the loudest I’ve ever screamed at anyone was after that (more embarrassing to admit this than the cucumber thing itself, I know). I screamed, and you screamed: Either you are behaving or you are leaving. When you said that, I knew I am in my own way an orientalist. I love—I envy—the way your errors of speech are always threatening to make new meanings. I love, even, the way you pronounce normativity. You make the word sound fleshy and almost viable.

Feels strange to recount arguments in a letter, but then you don’t remember much of what I say or do, so why not keep records? Not being religious, I tend to save up the worst things I’ve done to confess to you, and usually you laugh, and I feel free of them for at least a day or two afterwards. Only when I’m further away from you again does time begin closing back in on me. I note that space-time is not oppressive to you. I envy the way you inhabit it: your body moves precisely as instructed, and so swiftly that the instruction seems not to have happened at all. Your mind is controlling your body, no problem. Most of all I envy what your family—XXXXXX, XXXX, XXXXX, XXXXX, I won’t count myself—puts up with from you. You can shout yourself sick at them and they keep loving you on and on, even though, presumably, they don’t see you as I used to, with the lens filmed over. They see you as you are and still love you. God knows I envy that. You’ll say that my family—my parents, my husband—also loves me as I am, probably, but see, I am not as you are. Mostly, even when I’m trying not to, I behave better than you do. OBSERVE ME BEHAVING MORE LOVABLY THAN YOU DO AND YET NEVER IN TOTAL RECEIVING MORE LOVE. Guess you figured out earlier than I did that love isn’t a reward for good behavior, and I envy that, too.

After I started this letter but before I finished it, the US elected Donald Trump president. I’d readied myself for a routine disappointment; for what actually transpired, that felt nowhere near ready enough. Slid briefly back into what a 2007 roommate referred to as your towel period. Stopped writing everything including this letter. (So you nearly had a narrow escape—the worst kind to nearly have, just ask America.) Caught myself in moments of nostalgia for the junior Bush administration, how it gentled us along, how it euphemized—the enhanced, the extraordinary. Isn’t it nice to give things nice names sometimes? I thought. No doubt after this initial silence I’ll be writing just as much tripe under fascism, maybe more, might as well feel emboldened for once. Attended an anarchist meeting where they discussed alternatives to the police for anyone harassed by thugs, &c. Left the meeting early: while I don’t like the cops either, if someone in a crisis feels safer calling me, I can only admire that person’s spirit.

I should have known after Access Hollywood that he would win, that the press didn’t grasp the first thing. That tape, I still don’t understand the reaction. He said he kisses women, I don’t even wait, he said women let you do anything if you’re famous. He said more hateful things every day on the trail. We already knew what he liked to do to people. More than grab. I wonder if you’ve ever kissed someone without asking first. Dustin Hoffman does it in Kramer vs. Kramer. All this sudden interest in what guys aren’t saying to each other in locker rooms. Who cares. Though incidentally, some of them are saying it—fair to assume they can say to each other what they say to me. Someone we both know, a few years back, gave me (were you there? don’t remember) his theory of old pussy, by which he meant not pussy that had succumbed in some way to chronological ravages but merely that which he personally had encountered more than a particular number of times—not as many times as you’d think, either, I believe it was six or seven. That’s when excitement gives way to comfort: If you stay past that point, it’s love. Then there’s: Me and my buddy in college used to tag-team girls all the time. And: As I get older, Lid, I find I care less and less about banging chicks and more and more about making money (this last, to explain why it felt like the right time to get married). Do these guys consider, more than DT does, what goes through a woman’s mind while she’s letting you do anything? I assume, by the way, that the banged and the tag-teamed consented—it’s possible they enjoyed themselves and I hope they did. Guess that just wasn’t the point of the stories, what they may or may not have been thinking or wanting.

Hearing a lot now about the uselessness of empathy, and my own experience bears that out. For instance, I experience more empathy for DT than for you, mainly because I envy him so much less. You take pleasure (or else I’ve chosen to see you this way) in wielding power over other people. Even DT seems to feel ambivalent about that, the actual wielding, I mean. Part of him wishes he could hide in his apartment forever and I wish I could, too, even if it entailed shutting down all of Fifth Avenue, screw whoever wanted to shop. I guarantee you there’s no problem.

Don’t write me back, please. Deleted some expletives and a few other hostages here, just in case you become president one day, or in case I do, since it seems you never can tell.

Love, L

Anna Della Subin
New York City, November 2016

Dear Qfwfq,

I've found myself envying you these past few days. It sounded so peaceful in the dark chill of the nebula, tucked under that viscous quilt. How nice that the world was so flat you had to lie down all the time! Wish I could have been there with you. Although I know it was itchy from all those spinning particles, and then matter started to accrete....

This week has felt a little like the universe is falling away from under our toes. It occurred to me to ask you, since you?re wise and you're thirteen billion years old?how bad does it look to you? And how do you manage to keep up on all the news without losing your mind?

I realize writing to you is a bit like the adult version of writing to Santa Claus. Not sure where you are now. When we left off you were in Canberra or Vercelli or maybe you've gone back to being a bivalve. But if you can't type, make a sign.


Anna Della

Amy Sillman
New York City, September 2016

To Whom It May Concern:

     This letter is to support the registration of Miss Amy S’s small Chihuahua dog, Omar, as an emotional support animal.  Miss S has been under my care for the treatment of a mental disability covered by the DSM-V Code, and Omar is essential to her mental health. He must accompany her everywhere she goes, especially in air, train and road travels. When seated beside her, or on her lap, he significantly reduces Miss S’s anxiety and serves as a buttress against her various stress triggers and symptoms.

     You see, Miss S suffers from the fundamental post-menopausal paradox: she is both too dry and too moist; she is too hot, but she needs to cover up. Her arms and legs have assumed the shape of Roman columns. So just at the moment when she finds herself to be both sweaty and clammy, she must be swaddled in layers, long sleeves, summer sweaters, Eileen Fisher trousers, and other loose fitting, tent-like garments. While these clothes signal her indifference -- some would say her outright hostility -- to human judgement, a support animal creates a mood of “cuteness” that stimulates empathy where otherwise little or none would be available.

     The fact that Omar is a tiny churlish creature, dangerously intolerant of children, serves a double function; his irritability is also an important match for Miss S’s own mood swings, and strange combination of fussiness and creeping amnesia. A little lapdog is therefore an important focal point between the world and Miss S, who might also be described as a “tactile learner” and likes to hold him.

      Miss S walks with a limp, yet she goes her own way, and asserts that she is lucky to have whatever she gets.  She goes about her business, her daily rounds, and tries to keep fairly cheerful. But please do not attempt to take her truculent little companion away from her, whom she says is her “best friend,” though she bought him at a store called Groom-O-Rama. You will notice that she speaks to him a wheedling high-pitched “dog voice” that would ordinarily be reserved for grandchildren. Have some pity for Miss S, a barren woman with no offspring. Do not ask what “service” Omar provides. Allow her to enter all buildings and carry her little burden wherever she wants.
 Sincerely yours,

Mrs. T.
NYSED Licensed Psychoanalyst #0000369A
Dan Fox
New York City, November 2015

Dear Ben,

       You know you were the first person I ever met who gave me an email address instead of a phone number? I had no idea what it was. A jumble of letters, a period and that useless whirly shape above the ‘2’ on a typewriter, scribbled in blue ink on a scrap of guidebook outside a bar in Kreuzberg. ‘Internet’ sounded like ‘Interzone’ to me. Didn’t ‘benway’ have something to do with William Burroughs? You assured me I’d work it out sooner or later.

     It was 1995, I was 19. We’d known each other for just a couple of weeks, travelling together to Berlin after having met in a cloud of mayflies outside a youth hostel in Prague. I’d made precocious reference to Warhol, joking that the short-lived bugs were enjoying their 15 minutes of fame. My remark would’ve been met with blank looks by people back home. You laughed, so we became fast friends. Moving out to stay in a squat closer to the centre of the city, you warned me away from the backpacking American bros in the hostel. It was a day before that dead body washed up on the river bank next to where we met.

     You gave me your email after that night at a bar near Oranienburger Strasse, the one suggested to us by a woman carrying her bicycle along the U-Bahn platform. It was the night you carried a whole stinking smoked mackerel in your backpack because we were trying to save money on food, and wondered why nobody wanted to talk to us as we picked at bits of fish in the corner of the room. Remember Fanny, whose floor we slept on? “Ze centre of ze alternative movement used to be in Kreuzberg,” she would explain in earnestness, “and now ze alternative movement ‘az moved to Prenzlauer Berg but some say ze alternative movement may now move to Mitte.” I remember we both cried tears of laughter on a bus late one night, mimicking her thick French accent. It was mean, but twenty-one years later ‘ze alternative movement’ still cracks us up. Cracks us up because if we didn’t laugh we’d have to down tools and stop for good. Back then the phrase merely sounded old-fashioned, now it’s plain elegiac.

       I’d never before met an American like you, Ben. OK, I’d not met many Americans at all until that point. I knew Del and Monica; gentle, elderly friends of my parents, who came from Cleveland, Ohio. They were lost in Oxford one wet afternoon in the late 1970s, and it happened to be my folks they stopped in the street to ask for help. Mum and Dad took them for tea, and stayed in touch until Del, and eventually Monica, passed away a few years ago. Del had been a big band musician, and when I turned ten he presented me with a clarinet that he had once used when he played with Glenn Miller during World War Two, and made me promise to take lessons. The other American I knew was Dominique from Arkansas. She attended my high school whilst her Dad, who was in the U.S. Air Force, was stationed at nearby RAF Brize Norton. They lived in a cottage in the village of Little Milton, and her Dad – a stern, religious man straight out of Central Casting’s Department of Republicans – would shout up the stairs to keep her bedroom door open when I visited. I was far too shy for him to have anything to worry about. That was it for Americans until you. You were from San Francisco and told me about The Residents and Ween. You were confidence itself, wickedly funny and I envied how unafraid you were to plunge into any situation life presented. I coveted your 1970s blue and yellow windcheater, and was baffled by the nutritious grease substance your sister had made for you, which you carried in a jam jar and would work into your hair each morning.

      My memory is better than yours, so I wonder how much you recall of knocking around at my parents’ home in Wheatley that summer? Remember trying to pick out ‘Soldier Boy’ by The Shirelles on the piano? Remember telling me to read Daniel Clowes’ ‘Art School Confidential’ before I became an art student? We were keen to work on a project together, and talked about making music, or maybe a ‘zine, but never settled on anything. (Still haven’t, two decades later, apart from that voiceover I once got you to read about Bruce Nauman being a redneck cowboy holding a group of us hostage at MoMA.) Wheatley had never seen anything like you, in your all-in-one bright blue jumpsuit, pilot’s goggles and long, dyed blonde hair. You looked like Buster Crabbe in the 1930s Flash Gordon serial. I took you to the King and Queen pub where you were the most exotic person that any one of my high school friends had ever encountered. A real, live, Californian. You threw Wheatley’s smallness into sharp relief.

      We kept in touch after you had returned to San Francisco. I still didn’t know what an email address was, so I sent you letters through the mail. They took the form of collaged figures cut from magazines and old picture books, the compositions held together by bold, inked backgrounds depicting radiant suns and vast landscapes. They looked like Terry Gilliam’s animations for Monty Python, crossed with works by Jess or Bruce Connor. Except back then I didn’t know who Jess was and only knew Connor as a guy who made some Devo video I saw late one night on Channel Four. So I guess they were just Gilliam homages. The letter part was spread across speech bubbles coming from the mouths of cut-out cherubim or old B-movie monsters. I modelled my handwriting after that of my brother Mark, who has a beautiful, ornate script – all sweeping curves to his ‘g’s and elegant peaks on his ’m’s. Mine looked like a drunken spider’s cry for help. (My eldest brother Karl for some reason always wrote in UPPER CASE. He left home to travel the world when I was small; perhaps he was just trying to make himself heard.)

      In return you’d send me packages containing strange ‘zines with titles such as ‘Beer Frame’, ‘Murder Can Be Fun’ and ‘Lackluster,’ which took a wry look at 1950s sex education guides, vernacular architecture or carried interviews with people doing jobs such as embalming and bail bonding. You’d send geological samples from the extreme edges of US culture – copies of Jack Chick’s hate-filled evangelical Christian comic strips, for instance, or flyers for a Survival Research Laboratories’ performance event featuring mechanised robots and lethal power tools. In my early teens my brother Mark had turned me on to John Waters films and B-52s records, training me to understand re-runs of The Munsters and Batman on British TV as a form of archaeological appreciation for camp. We grokked it as Cold War gallows humour disguised as nostalgia, made in a far-away country where life could be terrifying but did not always have to be taken seriously. Your care packages helped build on that education in Weird America, Subcultural America, All-Knees-and-Elbows-Awkward-America, an America populated by keen-eyed satirists, hopeful communitarians and harmless crazies, by those able to find pathos in pop and pulp. My Collaged America.

      I got my first email address in ’96. I found out that the ‘cea’ in your email stood for ‘Center for Electronic Arts’. I longed to work in what I imagined to be a tech-utopian studio staffed with beautiful Californians labouring over glowing control boards in darkened rooms that looked like spacecraft interiors. I never could fathom what you did there. Back in the Old World I’d stopped making the collages and had begun writing lengthy email letters to you instead. You introduced me to the first person I knew only through electronic correspondence, Andrew, who used to work for the cyberpunk magazine ‘Mondo2000’ and was researching a piece for Artforum on education and wanted background colour on being an art student in the UK. In ‘97 I went to San Francisco to visit my brother Karl; I stayed with him out in Richmond and trekked over to the city to spend a few days with you. I was excited, looking forward to hanging out with beautiful Californians labouring over glowing control boards in the Centre for Electronic Arts. I discovered, to my selfish disappointment, that I had timed my visit whilst you were depressed about your relationship situation. I had recently turned twenty-one, and as you were a few years older, it was one of the first adult experiences I’d had of a friendship’s mood changing considerably under life’s meteorological conditions. You introduced me to Americans who may not have been quite like you, but seemed to be fellow travellers: Amy and Sarah and James, and whomever else I now can’t remember. I can, however, recall visits to Aquarius Records, nights spent pouring over copies of RE:Search and devouring your music collection: Japanese techno and Cambodian pop. ‘Bat Macumba’ by Os Mutantes and Negativland’s ‘Dispepsi’. (Such cultural pond-skating sounds commonplace these days, fraught with the dangers of appropriation, but I had scant access to the Internet then and had to leave the house to find art of any stripe.) I remember the temperature of gold your kitchen turned at dusk, and how the BART train we took to Berkeley one afternoon reminded me of photographs I’d seen of the Epcot Center – or if not Epcot, then a positive, future-minded World’s Fair I’d read about, perhaps a scene from a National Film Board of Canada PSA about technology’s promise. I recall trying to hire a Super 8 camera from a community filmmaking centre in the Mission, and enjoying Mexican food on Valencia not thinking the area would ever change. I remember borrowing a bike from Amy and joining you on a Critical Mass cycle protest, shutting down San Francisco during Friday rush hour – the agony of trying to pedal up all those hills, the giddy careen back down again, and the cool Bay air on my skin. My impression of America was being shaped out of the corner of the eye, at the back of my nose, as mouthfeel. More sensation than idea.

      It would be some years until I would visit you again in California. You came through London a couple of times in the early 2000s then we gradually dropped out of touch. Both of us were to blame. The solid, crafted emails liquefied into occasional phone calls, then evaporated into infrequent text messages from one or either of us saying it’d be nice to speak on the phone. And then we wouldn’t. Life thickened and got in the way. Your email address changed; Dr Benway left the room and went to ‘’. The bentropy took its toll. I remember calling you in December 2010, a year after I had moved to New York. We’d not spoken for some time. You thought I had fallen out with you, and I thought you’d gotten bored with our friendship. That changed when I’d told you I’d had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving that year. I was in Miami when we spoke: I was miserable, lonely in a new country, alienated by an art fair I was obliged to attend for work. I was so struck by the shock in your voice, your outrage that it simply wasn’t right to leave a person alone for the holidays, that it brought me to tears. Americans, like you, floor me sometimes.

      We reconnected properly around 2014. There was a new seriousness to you. We no longer exchanged collages and ‘zines, but during your visits to New York we traded a couch to crash on for copies of ‘The Black Radical Politics Reader’ and long conversations about Occupy. I wished to be as galvanized as you. The intensity with which you analysed your emotions, questioned your actions and doubted your assumptions had ramped up considerably since I’d last seen you. I worried your self-interrogation would put up more barriers than it might pull down, but your correlate empathies as a friend had increased manifold too. By then I’d met many Americans who shared your values. Remember that evening with Oki and Sierra? A grey, muggy night in the East Village. I recall how accelerated the conversation at the Ukrainian social club was, making an effort to keep up with you all, then later drinking beer back at mine, the four of us going deep on politics before laughing over so much else and for so long that the giggles became life-threatening. We briefly time-travelled back to ’95 and spoke in our Esperanto of music and movies.

      I returned to San Francisco a couple of times. Valencia Street had altered beyond recognition. The changes made me anxious so I visited Aquarius Records in the hope I could reel back in the atmospherics from that summer of ’97, but it was in its last days, being squeezed out like the old collaged letters. Me, you and Oki cycled to The Audium in downtown SF; composer Stan Sheff’s delightful immersive sound theatre, a throwback to 1970s hippie utopianism. They’d call the vibe ‘hippie modernist’ these days. The visit left me charmed and sad. I knew that I was in love with an America I had made a collage of in the 1990s, clinging to a adolescent memory of valuing oddball ‘zines and beatsploitation movies and Dead Kennedys records because they helped hotwire my cultural literacy, hooked confidence up to difference, and played a part in shaping my friendship with you. None of this flotsam could in any way represent America. Geek male enthusiasms, that’s what they were. Transitional objects. Admitting to narrowmindedness is useful, but tough.

      I originally thought that I’d make a new set of collages for this letter. Trouble is, now I’ve been an editor for 18 years, spending my weekend leafing through old magazines in search of pictures to cut out is a busman’s holiday. It’s harder to channel that old Python spirit through scissors and glue and those old collages are just screen condensation on group messages between you, me and Andrew. So maybe I’ll phone you this December from Miami, alienated for different reasons than five years ago. Nothing has faded from view: it is just harder to see our present motives and ideals as meandering, ropey extrusions from those we found in a cloud of flies outside a youth hostel in Prague. ‘Ze alternative movement’ has long been knock-kneed and needing to sit down but it thrives in your mind. When I call I’ll hear your awkwardness, eccentricity, anger, introspection, generosity, intelligence, empathy, warmth and wit.

      It’s good to know Americans like you.    

Bridget Donahue
New York City, September  2015

Dear Morgan,

You recently read my horoscope chart, as well as those of a few of the artists I work with. I learned from you that my chart has a Grand Trine in Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) – wow. You were kind about the harmonious balance I possess. After the reading I felt a little like I do after a routine teeth cleaning or physical. All's good in the stars, no major drama. We talked about organizing work and home for a fresh start at the eclipse on September 16th.  I felt prepared, calm and a bit proud; I even Instagram'ed my trine.

The artists I work with regaled my reading. "That makes so much sense! You are balanced and so strong and supportive!" Their compliments were nice, but if I'm honest, I was a bit envious of their readings. All their little planets were jammed together in one house. They had odd gods to be discussed, bold straight lines running along the curved edges of their circle. Their charts were so much more exciting! Past lives were discussed, love and romance, good days for doing business, et cetera.

A little later on, I wanted to fully bathe in my newly affirmed astrological self, so like many of us I turn to the omnipotent Google. The internet would go on to tell me that the
The Grand Trine is a rare chart shape, "indicative of a special gift that can be developed with the right sort of understanding and work.."
Sounds about right,
"...but which notoriously can produce a wasted crop or even a criminal outcome. Vision is strongly emphasized, but so also is egotism, selfishness, an unconscious assumption of special individual privilege and heightened pride in self..."
"...This individual will exhibit courage, adventurousness, risk-taking and even gambling..." (?!)
"...combined with an innocence that might ultimately rather prove to amount to naivety, lack of forethought or even culpable carelessness, and will be all the more dangerous because this individual has an unshakeable faith in self as eerily invincible, strangely protected from harm and taking on impossible odds. These gambles will indeed produce amazing results but will ultimately prove to be hubris and turn to ashes."
what the fuck!
"...They could well have the seeds of their own destruction. There will be impulsiveness – and acting out of unacknowledged psychological material could lead to undoing. These qualities need spiritual understanding..."
uh, yeah
"...otherwise there will be a growing sense of the emptiness and impermanence of such ego-striving and social climbing and a gathering horror at the harm and stress caused from striving so persistently and so long."
utterly horrified to say the least

Morgan, I cannot help but feel the ground shake a bit with this new knowledge! Is the Grand Trine not an absolutely sensational volcano? You sheltered me from the true underbelly of my Grand Trine. With all the news of the day, rising rents, my own eviction and health insurance crises, my fledgling business, likely now on the verge of all hell breaking loose, I can now clearly see! My envy is ablaze again, this time for that milk-toast trine you once described.

Let's review the chart ASAP,

Seth Price
New York, November 2016

All staff:

Tonight there were five bussers on the second floor, four bussers on the third floor, and the first floor's bussers did food running due to the floor being closed. However, I was pulled from second floor bussing to help the bay hosts and take drink orders. This left three people on the Tee-line and one person at the main bar.
There was an issue on the second floor with Jeremiah wondering off, leaving Jace and Jordan to bus the floor. Gunnar was asked to leave the third floor to help the second floor while Zac spoke with Jeremiah. This caused Jeremiah to work slightly harder, but he still did not want to do the closing duties that he was delegated. Aside from that, he would also take a bus cart down and leave it for others to clear.
On the flip side, Chad did very well on the third floor. Morgen, Eric, and Gunnar played to his strength and had him run bus carts to the dish-pit and back. Joseph did well bussing the main bar tables as well. He organizes the bus carts very well and could probably save us a lot of trips to the dish-pit if we could get everyone to organize the carts the way he does. Jordan did well on the second floor also, but she is more comfortable working as a food runner. She also helped clear the back dock, which Zac and Bruce checked.
The back dock was, however, mostly cleared when we discovered four or five mats that the kitchen had set outside while it was being cleaned. Jace took a picture of the mats to document it. This just added more time and frustration to the cleanup process back there.
As far as drink running goes, the bay hosts did pretty well with taking their own drinks on the second floor when they were able to. The only host that there were any issues with was Jessica Arata. She would see her drinks in the well and just expect Fon to take them as soon as possible, which is not fair to the drink runner or other hosts.
The last point that needs to be covered is the maggots under the dumpsters. Water was not effective on them tonight. Some type of repellant or killer is needed to rid the dumpsters of them.    

Seth Price for The Management
Adam Shatz
New York, November 2016

Dear D.

You signed your last email, as you often do, but we still have the music. It arrived on a Tuesday night, hours after The Unnameable gave his acceptance speech, surrounded by an entourage that might as well have been the White Citizens Council. I was in a midtown studio, speaking on French radio. By the time I left it was nearly four in the morning, and I felt heavy with grief. Or was it disbelief? Like a lot of people in the bluest of blue cities, I woke up to the fact of living in another country.

Back home, I poured myself a whisky, and, with the lights off, listened to Gil Scott-Heron's rousing Watergate monologue, the "H20gate Blues," from his 1974 album Winter in America:

"I'm sorry, the government you have elected is inoperative. Click, inoperative. Just how blind will America be? The world is on the edge of its seat. Defeat on the horizon. Very surprising that we could see the plot and claim that we could not....How long will the citizens wait, it's looking like Europe in 38, did they move to stop Hitler before it was too late?...Four more years, four more years, four more years of that?"

As Gil reminded me, this isn't the first winter in America, and, as you say, we still have the music. Still, I wonder: what else do we have?


Paolo Javier
New York City, September 2016

from: paolo javier <....>
to: fel santos <....>
date: Sun, Sep 11, 2016 at 3:37 PM
subject: (no subject)

Kumusta na, Fel?

No worries about last week. I totally understand divine deadlines, especially for a major news network like ---. I work for the DOE, after all, so I know busy intimately. But we should definitely re-schedule for mid to late October to meet up. By then, I should be settled into the new school year. Autumn also seems like the perfect time to roll up the sleeves, and dig into the next phase of my study of gigil/your work. Ayus!

Thank you, too, for last night's note about Ur'lyeh/Aklopolis. I'm both pleased and relieved that you like what you've read/heard so far. Rest assured, David and I worked our tails off to honor your poetry. I also couldn't agree more with you about Texte und Töne/SEEN Studio's production on the pub/ssette: it is unique, otherworldly. Perfect for such a weird collaboration. Not sure if you've been in touch with David, but we are looking forward to launching it sometime in November with the filmmaker Julia Loktev, who also has a new book forthcoming with the press. I'm sure you'll hear from one of us about it once a proper date is secured. Needless to say, we'd both be honored if you could make it.

Since we are already looking ahead to our next meeting, I'd like to get the jump on our conversation by asking you about Labyrinth, a film which you continue to credit, along with the 'I of Newton' Twilight Zone episode and Children of the Corn, for inspiring/triggering you to "summon the Devil" back in 1986—while still a preteen, at that. I'm keen not just on seeing your experience's connection to the development of your private language, but also as a formative moment for you as a poet. (More about this when we meet up.)

Like you, I saw Labyrinth in the theater when it came out. I don't recall it, though, being anything more than a populist fairy tale teeming with Muppets. Watching it again last month, in its thirtieth anniversary, no less, I was taken aback by the film's pervasive occult and masonic imagery. Did you pick up on this when you saw the film?

I wonder, too, whether by doing so, even on a subconscious level, it spurred you on to practice enchantment (with greater intensity)?

I ask this because the film is steeped in dream logic. I'm curious to know if you might have been seeking an escape; after all, you'd mentioned previously how you began to withdraw from close friends at school, from even your cousins whom you grew up with, months before it came out. Early in the film, its heroine, Sarah, played by Jennifer Connelly, screams out loud: "Someone take me away from this awful place!" In response, her stepmother whom she reviles (of course) presses her to "go on dates". By film's end, Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie), offers to fulfill Sarah's wish, provided she submits to him. "Just let me rule you, and you can have everything you want," he says.

After watching Labyrinth, you succeed in summoning Satan/Jinn/dwende "on a hot night with the windows open" at your godmother's apartment in Tudor Towers. You told me that this happened as you watched the climax of Children of the Corn on TV, when the pagan god of the cornfield, speaking through Isaac, the slain cult leader, rises from the dead to claim the soul of Malachai, his former right-hand man turned assassin. Typically, in cinematic depictions of demonic possession, the victim becomes the foreign entity. Suddenly, they are Other: Satan; Jinn; dwende, etc. And in this Otherness, physical change is always preceded by the supernatural ability to speak in entirely new, alien languages.

I wonder, then, Fel: when you "sold [your pre-teen] soul to the devil" that hot summer night, were you sub/consciously seeking Otherness?

Perhaps in anticipation of your family's plan to move to the U.S. in the next three years, news of which you gleaned from your mother earlier in January?

As a fellow immigrant poet, I am envious of your access to an Ur-syntax like gigil. It makes me think of Alan Moore's description in The Courtyard of Machen and Lovecraft's invented language of Aklo,

    the primal vocabulary giving form to those pre-conscious orderings wrung
    from a hot incoherence of stars, from our birthmuds pooled in the grandmother
    lagoon; a stark, limited palette of earliest notions, lost colours, forgotten

But don't worry: even if I wanted to bite your work, I could never come close to its genius. Know this in Ur'lyeh ,where I abandon my experiment with gigil midway through the book, switching to a more conventional gloss(olali)ary form.

Another thing I'm envious about: your generosity with sharing your practice and collaborators. Usually poets and artists get territorial about both. Not so you with you. As a result, David and I will be launching our pub/ssette* in November. Maraming salamat uli!

As soon as you are able, please let me know a set of dates in October that work for you.

Gotta go feed Saya now. She just woke up from her nap!   

ingat lang,

p.s. *We didn't include any instructions on Ur'lyeh/Aklopolis, but ideally you would be reading the one while listening to the other

Jennifer Higgie
London, October 2016

Dear Envy,  
You’re a rat-bag.
Uninvited, you first visited me, if my memory isn’t failing me, in primary school. Age six or so, longing for a gold bangle.
My naked wrist taunted me with its scattering of faint dark hair.
And then.
On rainy days, I longed to swim.
On sunny days, I longed to swim.
But even more, I wanted to wrap my arms around a horse, the one waiting for me in some golden field.
Where the hell was that golden field?
Envy, you did this to me! I was born healthy and you made me mad!
There were people swimming and riding out there, I just knew it, and their wrists were jingle-jangling with more gold bracelets than you could poke a stick at.
That’s what you told me.
Why were you lying?
Dear Envy,
You’re like a hollow tree. Empty calories. A puppet dictator. Spam mail. Cruel seducer. A nuisance call. School bully. Warm champagne. A bore at a dinner party. Etc.
Dear Envy,
When I was 13, you made me feel hot embarrassment in my communist jeans. Oh, Envy, you egged me on as I looked at the long-legged girls in their 501s! Oh, Envy, I was not long-legged and you made me feel that those girls never had to suffer the way I did, you assured me that their lovely limbs were never not encased in the correct fabric! Oh Envy, you made me complain to my mother, you made me beg for something that wasn’t mine to have.
Oh Envy, I am sure you snarled when my good mother replied:
‘The name’s Higgie, not Rockefeller.’
Dear Envy,
While we’re on the subject, why did you make me feel so bad about never becoming an actress? I could do that! Why didn’t I even try?
You still enjoy taunting me with that one.
But still, my life is pretty good: I write, I work with great people, I’m proud of what I do. Why don’t you leave me alone? Sure, no-one claps when I finish typing a sentence, but I’m OK!
I am, really!
Dear Envy,
Ah, no, that’s not your way is it? You love asking ‘but what if …?’ and then running for the hills.

Dear Envy,
OK, credit where credit’s due. Unlike most politicians, which is sort of what you are, given that you’re always dangling phony carrots in front of my donkey’s head, I’ll grant your indifference to borders, gender, sexuality, race: your talent for bad feeling is global. Hats off, Envy!

Dear Envy,
Speaking of which, was it you who planted the idea of immigration to Iceland in my dreams?

Dear Envy,
Two days ago an artist I know said she longed to be an oyster. She thought it would be restful.
I drank my wine and envied her certainty.
I knew that if I were an oyster, I would Envy fish.
And if I were a fish, I would Envy dolphins.
And if I were a dolphin, I would Envy species with legs and hands.
Thanks, Envy.
Dear Envy, the list of your insidious crimes is endless, sour and irritating and I shall not honour them by repeating them.
Dear Envy,
I hate the way I banish you, and yet you always manage to sneak back.
Dear Envy,
Are you proud of yourself? Really? How’s the rest of the family, Complaint and Regret? I hear they’re flourishing.
Dear Envy,
I Envy the people who feel no Envy.
(Do they exist?)
Dear Envy,
OK, since you insist:
I also Envy those who refuse to allow their imagination to be compromised by bureaucracy. Rules scare me, but the idea of a world without them is even scarier.
What am I meant to do with that?
Dear Envy,
You’re so damn repetitious, but not in a good, John-Cage sort of a way. Tell me: is repetition to Envy like arnica to a bruise? I mean, will you ever fade away?
Dear Envy,
Stop using me as a conduit for your bad manners.
Dear Envy,
Life doesn’t have a template. Stop insisting it does!
Dear Envy,
Despite the fact that so many people in the world are suffering unspeakably, you give me – who, relatively speaking, leads a privileged life – permission to moan.
That’s the wrong kind of permission! You’re a bad influence! Go away! I mean it!
Dear Envy,
You coward, you never take any responsibility for your actions, do you? You never admit that you’re conservative, conventional, materialistic and meddling and that everything about you is wrong. You’re like a metaphorical snake in the grass or an actual mosquito, which is perhaps unfair on mosquitos, but I don’t know what purpose they serve.
(Are mosquitos jealous of bees?)
Dear Envy,
Go jump off a cliff.
Go jump in a lake.
Go boil your head and get out of mine.
Yours – damn you –

Sarah Resnick
New York City, November 2016

Dear H. L.,

There are not many days about which I can say, with confidence, “Today was a strange day, absolutely unlike any other,” but about today I can say this, I’m certain. I woke early, too early, turned on the radio, lay prone and quite still. People from all over the city were calling the station to say things on-air. The things they said were solemn, the tones they used despairing. People were afraid. I am afraid. In my bed, still, I was grateful for the one-directionality of the medium, relieved not to be asked to offer words in return.

You once said, “If it were easy to talk I’d be a writer. Since I’m inarticulate, I take pictures.” I’d counter they are not the same, talking and writing. Or not always, not for me. But this morning, they were. At my computer, I tried to answer an email. The words, though—they were getting in the way. I could not call to mind the ones I needed. Yesterday the email had seemed important. Today it seemed trivial. I sat in front of the screen a long while. The radio was on, but the volume now was low. I put my legs up on the desk, slumped in the chair.

Surely you had known days like this one. You who spent your twenties in the 1930s. You who were the same age I am now during the Second World War.

I pulled a book of your pictures from the shelf.

There is the man in middle age who, because of the angle at which he stands, relative to the frame, of how his black-framed coke-bottle lenses both magnify and reflect the buildings around him, cannot be known through his eyes. This is all right, though, because his mouth, lips pressed tightly in a thin, straight line, chin thrust forward, shoulders stooped, say to us plenty.

I could see him.

There is the girl of eleven or twelve who, by contrast, is all eyes. Above the bridge of her nose her skin puckers into a fine wedge, eyebrows crowning deeply set lids, dark stains set beneath her lower lashes. She holds a single white lily among a spray of delicate ferns. She glares determinedly. 

There is the woman who with both hands holds the leash of a mixed-breed terrier kneeling just beside her, its coat matted and straggly, not unlike her own tousled white hair. But she does not look at the dog, or at me; she does not look anywhere in particular. Her youth has been betrayed by all the years she has been in this world and down on her luck. Pay close attention, you say: she wears two different shoes.

You were so good at recognizing in the people you photographed something true—not their essence, in the singular, for I do not believe in such reductiveness, and I suspect that you did not either—but a real feeling that remains untransformed and preserved in the grains of silver and in the colored dyes of your pictures. You saw them. 

Late last night, this morning, I realized that of late I have seen almost no one.

I feel that I’ve let people down.

Did you feel that way, too, ever?


Yasmine El Rashidi
New York City, November 2016

Dear America,

Please Sir kindly find attached our inaugural Human Rights Report USA. Commencing now please be advised we will be sending these to you each month. We respectfully advise that you review and consider the section entitled recommendations for improvement addended to the report.

Now you know how it feels.

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