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Sunday, 29 March 2009

Dave Awl 2009

Here amid the ongoing chaos of my life in the midddling-to-latter part of the 00s, I have been very bad at 4Qating in recent years -- and even worse at reporting on it. The Mincery of 4Qation lists my last documented 4Qation as taking place in 2004, such a dizzying long time ago that many people still thought John Kerry might be US president someday and the Doctor wasn't back on the telly yet.

Although most years I have managed to get out and slip a few pieces of yellow paper into the world sometime within a week or so of the fourth, I have rarely managed to get these exploits written up and posted, with or without photos.

One year not so many half-decades ago, I actually organized a little dinner gathering at a restaurant, and placed a folded yellow paper by everyone's place setting. I took pictures of all this. At the moment I have no idea where they might be -- no doubt flotsaming around somewhere in my exobrain. But I certainly never got around to writing the cheery and amusing account of it all that I'd envisioned.

This year, in hopes of keeping both the 4Qation and its documentation more streamlined and therefore more like to make it to the Internets eventually, I limited myself to a single quotation, forbade myself to even think about photography, and for the first time ever hand-wrote the thing on a sheet of yellow paper like Ms. Slickman originally intended instead of typesetting some elaborate handout with multiple quotes like I'd done in the past.

I decided to pick a quotation from a book I'd never 4Qated from before, and something from a relatively recent book (rather than a classic quote from the First Six Novels, which I have mined so heavily over the years).

So I chose this early passage from The Bat Tattoo, which is hands-down my favorite Hoban book of the 00s -- the one I think most deserved a US release and yet inexplicably didn't get one.

Here is what my yellow paper said.


February 4, 2009

"Looking for a particular thing in a museum is like looking for a word in the dictionary -- you keep being led astray. Bodhisattvas, Buddhist banners, bronze and jade and robes with dragons. Little earthenware ladies out of tombs: their robes were glazed, their faces not, their mouths were closed. Horses, T'ang Dynasty -- their saddles were empty, waiting to take the dead to paradise. Just looking at those horses you could hear the clip-clop of their hooves in the silence.

"There was a little bronze tomb guardian, something between a dog and a nightmare, who looked as if he could lick his weight in demons or anything else that came his way. Although I wasn't dead I felt safer with him around. A place like that Chinese gallery is bound to be haunted by ghosts, demons, who knows what. For that matter, every place I know is haunted by ghosts, demons, and absent friends."

-- Russell Hoban, The Bat Tattoo (p. 3)

Compliments of The Kraken
In honor of Russell Hoban's 84th Birthday


I wrote this out on a sheet of paper at the neighborhood pack-and-mail store, copied it onto roughly half-a-dozen sheets of yellow paper, and then slipped them inside copies of a few of Chicago's alternative weeklies at a couple of different coffehouses in Andersonville (my neighborhood in Chicago). I also slipped a couple between boxes of tea at the neighborhood supermarket.

Thus endeth the 2009 report, submitted only about two months late. Next year my goal will be to get it filed while the sun is still in Aquarius.



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