Facsimile Magazine, published by Haoyan of America. Volume One, Number Twelve, 2007. ISSN 1937-2116.
Table of Contents
Christopher Walken is an actor who stands unique and apart from other performers because he possesses a quality that can best be described as strange, which in contemporary 70’s terms is the new definitions of “It.” Walken is indeed attractive, charismatic and talented, but to date his real turn-on is his gift for bringing to his characters a sense of what is loosely defined as being “off-the-wall.” In ANNIE HALL Christopher played the troubled and contemplative brother of DIANE KEATON who, after confiding in WOODY ALLEN, inspired Woody to remember that he had an appointment on the planet Earth. Those fortunate enough to have seen Walken star opposite IRENE WORTH in SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH remember him as being not another Paul Newman but most certainly a performer memorable enough for critics to classify his CHANCE WAYNE as the Chance of a lifetime.
In NEXT STOP GREENWICH VILLAGE Christopher Walken shared the screen with LENNY BAKER, JEFF GOLDBLUM, and ELLEN GREENE, and it’s more than a coincidence that all of these performers are still working.
Christopher’s work currently involves filming of THE DEERHUNTER in which he is co-starring with ROBERT DENIRO. Obviously the success of this film remains to be seen – but whatever the outcome, Christopher Walken will most definitely always have “It” to fall back on.
The interview took place in CHRISTOPHER WALKEN’S upper West Side apartment which he incidentally owns. The ceilings are so high he could fly a kite in his living room, and in case someone tells him to, he has one strategically hanging on a brick wall. The apartment also features a patio terrace which really came in handy on this particular afternoon, considering how it was raining cats and dogs. Walken is a sexy guy – or anyway he was that day. I felt a little nervous and in awe of meeting him and when he asked me how I was, I answered “fun” instead of the customary “fine”. It was a short-lived embarrassing moment though because, as it turned out, Walken was nervous too.
CW: Interviews make me nervous.
TINK: I know the feeling. I swallowed an ice cube on the Susskind show. Do you do many television interviews?
Yeah, and I usually just shut up. But the trouble with most people when they’re nervous is that they don’t use it. They try to hide it. Nervous-ness is just as interesting as anything else.
Sometimes more interesting. (Take now, for example.)
I think people should just expose their nervous- ness.
A lot of performers are nervous but would never dream of owning up to it. I saw Elliot Gould on the Carson Show recently, and he admitted that he’s nervous all of the time. Even if it was an exaggeration, I respect his admission.
Certain actors made a career out of it. Like Montgomery Clift. He was always a little nervous. But I suppose people called it sensitivity.
Are you an admirer of Clift’s work?
I like him very much. He had a slightly frenzied quality about him which I thought was interesting. He was one of those people who was able to surrender to his nervousness. I met him once.
Did you two hit it off?
I have no idea. We certainly were comfortable together. I sat next to him for half an hour before I realized who he was. It was just before he died. We had the most terrific conversation that you could have without saying anything. We sat there. There was nobody else around. I had nothing to say to him. He had nothing to say to me. We drank, smoked cigarettes and didn’t speak.
Once I realized who he was, it still didn’t make any difference.
How did you come away from that experience?
I just got up and left.
Those who knew Clift claim that he drank because he had a death wish, but maybe he drank because he liked to.
Everybody has a tendency to moralize a bit.
Do you think that extremely nervous performers are borderline neurotics?
I don’t know, but I suppose that the point of analysis for many performers is to learn to overcome being depressed about certain qualities they have and learn to celebrate them instead. The trick for an actor is to take all those qualities that are considered liabilities for most other people and make them useful.
Do you feel that there’s much psychology involved in acting?
I never thought much about that word, but I recently became a member of the Actor’s Studio and they talked about that a lot and about all the things that make it hard for you to act which are really very useful – like distractions. They’re as much a part of good acting as they are a part of your life.
I remember Lee Strasberg once saying something to the effect that the Method is a summation of what actors have always done unconsciously whenever they acted well.
I don’t know what that means. I guess he’s right. He’s very smart. Most actors create a personality for themselves that they use over and over. It’s that something that’s useful and works and is good in a jam.
That’s not technique?
I guess it’s a form of technique. It’s something that they manufacture over the years until they know they’ve got something that works. That’s of course, contrary to all ideas of good acting. It’s not necessarily what I believe in, but it is something that I’ve noticed.
I’ve noticed people do that with their lives, especially transvestites. They develop and model themselves after and into a fabulous character and just turn into that person. Sometimes it’s magnificent. I think that’s what Muhammed Ali did. He developed the perfect schtick for himself and just became it. Not that I’m implying that he’s a latent transvestite.
I saw him in The Greatest and I was really impressed with his performance. It was a silly film, but to see him in front of a camera was incredible. He was light, he was funny, and he handled women with such charm – almost like Cary Grant. He’s got it.
Yeah. He’s got good technique.
It’s an amazing thing. Very mysterious.
Speaking of myst-erious, I remember seeing you in Sweet Bird of Youth where you played an off the wall type of guy, then I saw you in Next Stop Greenwich Village where you were fascinating in an off the wall way and in Annie Hall you practically made off the wall history. Can this have any bearing on the fact that in real life you might be a little (you guessed it) – off the wall?
I don’t know. Of course, if you are off the wall you’d probably be the last one to know it. People that I know well don’t refer to me that way. Could be they think it. But I’ve noticed that too. When you’re an actor you wonder. You find out things about yourself by what people ask you to do.
Were you cast for Annie Hall because of your role in Greenwich Village?
I really don’t know. I met Woody Allen and we had a meeting for about two minutes. We didn’t talk much. He just looked at me and gave me the part. But you do get glimpses of yourself by what kinds of parts you’re asked to play.
But you have done Shakespeare too.
I got into Shakespeare by accident. I was in musicals for a long time. I was a dancer. Like most things that happen to you, it was an accident.
I’m impressed with the mere thought of being able to remember all those lines. Not to mention delivering them. Did you know that Olivier used to ad lib Shakespeare? It’s a coup how actors can even memorize those kinds of parts.
I know. The same thing occurs to me. A lot of the problem with learning and performing Shakespeare is finding out what you’re talking about first. When you find out certain things, you learn that they’re repeated in the play. I don’t have any trouble reading Shakespeare any more because I know what everything means. Elizabethans were great punners. A conversation like this would be filled with puns. It was part of an educated person’s repertoire.
Have you had many on-stage embarrassing moments like forgetting your lines?
Have I ever gone up? I have a pretty good system for dealing with that. I just stand there and another actor will give you the line or call it from the wings or it’ll just come back to you. The trick in a situation like that is not to panic. You can just ad lib in a contemporary play, but you don’t blow your lines as often as you think you would, and the tendency to forget Shakespeare is rare because it’s metered and one thing follows another.
When did you first realize that you were dramatic?
You never sensed it? Do you recall being good in a school play or a Christmas pageant? You weren’t dramatic as a child around the house?
As a matter of fact, until I was 20 I never had any interest in doing anything in particular.
I love a guy with drive.
Not that I didn’t hope I would some day. I suppose I always had faith that things would turn out well.
I see, an optimist. Were you an innie or an outie in high school?
What’s that, my bellybutton?
It’s a long story; are you sure you want to hear it? I’ll try to make it short. It’s based on the theory that many creative and successful people became that way as a form of compensation for being unpopular in high school. Mike Nichols said that he was an “outie” and long after high school he was doing his night-club act and a fellow from Mike’s high school approached him and said, “Do you remember me?” As it turned out this guy was an “innie” when Mike was an “outie.” So Mike said, “Yeah, I remember you, you were a real shit. What are you doing now?” Well, the guy said he was a used car salesman and Mike Nichols said, “I’m so glad.”
I conveniently have no recollection of high school because I would prefer to romanticize my past. I have an attraction to outlaws I suppose, but when I look back I was very unnoticeable at the time.
Then maybe the theory does work because you’re so noticeable now. Were you a rebel?
No. I’d like to tell you I was.
Yes. I think that’s a tendency. You have it all your life. I don’t know why one should be that way. I don’t have any trouble being alone. Maybe that’s why. It’s not that I don’t want other people around. It’s just that I don’t have any trouble being by myself. That’s probably why most loners are loners. Because there isn’t any need not to be alone.
I heard that you were doing some research in coal mining areas in preparation for you role in The Deerhunter.
I went and took a look around the steelmill towns because I don’t know anything about that part of the world. My part calls for a man who works in a steelmill from one of those towns in Pennsylvania. It’s the kind of life that I don’t know about because I’m from right here, New York.
Did you see Harian County?
I’m really sorry I didn’t. A lot of people have told me that I would have done well to see that.
What’s DeNiro’s role in The Deerhunter?
We’re both a couple of guys who work in a mill and spend a lot of time hunting together and then go to Viet Nam as guys did. Guys that join up together as in every war, buddies.
Is The Deerhunter based on a famous short story or novel that I should know about?
There’s a famous novel called The Deerslayer, but it has nothing to do with that. Everybody asks me that.
It must be because hunters and slayers are so similar. I thought it would be a good question. It turned out to be a trite one. What do you do when you’re not out hunting deer? Should I re-phrase that question?
One of the tremendous responsibilities of an actor is what to do with one’s time. An actor has to deal with idleness more than most people. I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but I’ve heard that Sylvester Stallone wrote Rocky because he just didn’t have enough to do as an actor. Sometimes something terrific comes out of that idleness or you have other choices. You could drink…
That sounds like fun. Do you keep a diary or a good bar?
What would I put in a diary? I do a lot of writing, though. But it’s so mediocre. I’ve written plays including some one act plays. When I started as an actor I was pretty bad and it took a long time to get to know how to do it well. I just had to keep doing it and put up with a lot of people telling me, “You stink” and sooner or later, it seems to me, that acting like anything else – you just learn how to do it. You make mistakes and you go back on your mistakes and learn how to perfect. I feel that way about writing. If I keep doing it, sooner or later I’ll learn how. That’s how I feel about everything.
Okay, I’m tired of beating around the bush. I’m a beautiful (spectacularly beautiful) 25 year old girl. I’m articulate and classy. I’m not from New York. I’m looking to get married to a guy who makes at least half a million a year. I know how that sounds, but keep in mind that a million a year is middle class in New York City, so I don’t think I’m overreaching at all.
Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could you send me some tips? I dated a business man who makes average around 200 - 250. But that’s where I seem to hit a roadblock. 250,000 won’t get me to central park west. I know a woman in my yoga class who was married to an investment banker and lives in Tribeca, and she’s not as pretty as I am, nor is she a great genius. So what is she doing right? How do I get to her level?
Here are my questions specifically:
- Where do you single rich men hang out? Give me specifics- bars, restaurants, gyms
- What are you looking for in a mate? Be honest guys, you won’t hurt my feelings
- Is there an age range I should be targeting (I’m 25)?
- Why are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the upper east side so plain? I’ve seen really ‘plain jane’ boring types who have nothing to offer married to incredibly wealthy guys. I’ve seen drop dead gorgeous girls in singles bars in the east village. What’s the story there?
- Jobs I should look out for? Everyone knows - lawyer, investment banker, doctor. How much do those guys really make? And where do they hang out? Where do the hedge fund guys hang out?
- How you decide marriage vs. just a girlfriend? I am looking for MARRIAGE ONLY
Please hold your insults - I’m putting myself out there in an honest way. Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I’m being up front about it. I wouldn’t be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn’t able to match them - in looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a nice home and hearth.
it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament.
Firstly, I’m not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here’s how I see it.
Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a crappy business deal. Here’s why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money. Fine, simple. But here’s the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity… in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won’t be getting any more beautiful!
So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let me explain, you’re 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!
So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold… hence the rub… marriage. It doesn’t make good business sense to “buy you” (which is what you’re asking) so I’d rather lease. In case you think I’m being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It’s as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.
Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets. So, I wonder why a girl as “articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful” as you has been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard to believe that if you are as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K hasn’t found you, if not only for a tryout.
By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn’t need to have this difficult conversation.
With all that said, I must say you’re going about it the right way. Classic “pump and dump.” I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of lease, let me know.
Intercapping is often used to clarify a domain name. However, DNS is case-insensitive, and some names may be misinterpreted when converted to lowercase. For example: Who Represents, a database of artists and agents, chose whorepresents.com; a therapists' network thought therapistfinder.com looked good; and another website operating as of August 2007, is penisland.net a website for Pen Island, a site that claims to be an online pen vendor, but exists primarily as a joke, as it has no products for sale. Other examples include cummingfirst.com, website of the Cumming First United Church in Cumming, GA and powergenitalia.com, a website for an Italian Power Generator company. In such situations, the proper wording can be clarified by use of hyphens. For instance, Experts Exchange, the programmers' site, for a long time used expertsexchange.com, but ultimately changed the name to experts-exchange.com.
List of Domains mentioned:
By Alan Bellows
Early in the morning on November 21, 1980, twelve men decided to abandon their oil drilling rig on the suspicion that it was beginning to collapse beneath them. They had been probing for oil under the floor of Lake Peigneur when their drill suddenly seized up at about 1,230 feet below the muddy surface, and they were unable free it. In their attempts to work the drill loose, which is normally fairly easy at that shallow depth, the men heard a series of loud pops, just before the rig tilted precariously towards the water.
At the time, Lake Peigneur was an unremarkable body of water near New Iberia, Louisiana. Though the freshwater lake covered 1,300 acres of land, it was only eleven feet deep. A small island there was home to a beautiful botanical park, oil wells dotted the landscape, and far beneath the lake were miles of tunnels for the Diamond Crystal salt mine.
Concluding that something had gone terribly wrong, the men on the rig cut the attached barges loose, scrambled off the rig, and moved to the shore about 300 yards away. Shortly after they abandoned the $5 million Texaco drilling platform, the crew watched in amazement as the huge platform and derrick overturned, and disappeared into a lake that was supposed to be shallow. Soon the water around that position began to turn. It was slow at first, but it steadily accelerated until it became a fast-moving whirlpool a quarter of a mile in diameter, with its center directly over the drill site.
As the whirlpool was forming on the surface, Junius Gaddison, an electrician working in the salt mines below, heard a loud, strange noise coming down the corridor. Soon he discovered the sound's source, which was rushing downhill towards him: fuel drums banging together as they were carried along the shaft by a knee-deep stream of muddy water. He quickly called in the alarm, and the mine's lights were flashed three times to signal its immediate evacuation. Many of the 50 miners working that morning, most as deep as 1,500 feet below the surface, saw the evacuation signal and began to run for the 1,300 foot level, where they could catch an elevator to the surface. However, when they reached the third level, they were blocked by deep water.
Clearly, the salt dome which contained the mine had been penetrated by the drill crew on the lake. Texaco, who had ordered the oil probe, was aware of the salt mine's presence and had planned accordingly; but somewhere a miscalculation had been made, which placed the drill site directly above one of the salt mine's 80-foot-high, 50-foot-wide upper shafts. As the freshwater poured in through the original 14-inch-wide hole, it quickly dissolved the salt away, making the hole grow bigger by the second. The water pouring into the mine also dissolved the huge salt pillars which supported the ceilings, and the shafts began to collapse.
As most of the miners headed for the surface, a maintenance foreman named Randy LaSalle drove around to the remote areas of the mine which hadn't seen the evacuation signal, and warned the miners there to evacuate. The miners whose escape was slowed by water on the third level used mine carts and diesel powered vehicles to make their way up to the 1,300 foot level, where they each waited their turn to ride the slow, 8-person elevator to the surface as the mine below them filled with water. Although it seemed to take forever to get out, all 50 miners managed to escape with their lives.
Meanwhile, up on the surface, the tremendous sucking power of the whirlpool was causing violent destruction. It swallowed another nearby drilling platform whole, as well as a barge loading dock, 70 acres of soil from Jefferson Island, trucks, trees, structures, and a parking lot. The sucking force was so strong that it reversed the flow of a 12-mile-long canal which led out to the Gulf of Mexico, and dragged 11 barges from that canal into the swirling vortex, where they disappeared into the flooded mines below. It also overtook a manned tug on the canal, which struggled against the current for as long as possible before the crew had to leap off onto the canal bank and watch as the lake consumed their boat.
After three hours, the lake was drained of its 3.5 billion gallons of water. The water from the canal, now flowing in from the Gulf of Mexico, formed a 150-foot waterfall into the crater where the lake had been, filling it with salty ocean water. As the canal refilled the crater over the next two days, nine of the sunken barges popped back to the surface like corks, though the drilling rigs and tug were left entombed in the ruined salt mine.
Despite the enormous destruction of property, no human life was lost in this disaster, nor were there any serious injuries. Within two days, what had previously been an eleven-foot-deep freshwater body was replaced with a 1,300-foot-deep saltwater lake. The lake's biology was changed drastically, and it became home to many species of plants and fish which had not been there previously.
Of course numerous lawsuits were filed, and they were subsequently settled out-of-court for many millions of dollars. The owners of the Crystal Diamond salt mine received a combined $45 million in damages from Texaco and the oil drilling company, and got out of the salt mining business for good.
No official blame for the miscalculation was ever decided, because all of the evidence was sucked down the drain, but the story described here is the generally accepted theory of what caused this massive disaster.
By Andrew Choate
"Hey, we match!"
"Oh. Yah. - I got the green shirt memo."
"No, I mean we're both fetid around the mouth."
"That's just a proprietary stench. We're all supposed to have it."
"I know, I know - But we both chose to lodge it in our gums!"
"Well, I don't like spritzing in the morning, so it's easier for me if I just suck on it while I sleep."
"Same here, my malty pal. Hey, wanna grab some lunch?"
"Yah, fuck piloting this database"
"Weeeeell, there's a new jerky bar I've been wanting to try..."
"Hey - are you talkin about The Eagle Who Never Heard of America? - I've been reading about that place."
"OO, I think I'm gotta try the mutton, what about you?
"Mmm, sounds good. Wait - tits of what?"
"Daffodil. Yah, I'm gonna smack down on some daffodil tit jerky for sure."
"Mmm, I think I sense a history of ankle jewelry on this mutton. more eating sounds Yah, I'm definitely tasting charming leg accessories. I... more eating Oh, for sure - this mutton came from a farm that encouraged daily fashion action- that's so important."
"MMM soft eating sounds My daffodil tits taste like they were sucked out of a rugby field nightmare - delicious! All the face-banging in the dirt gives it a tart crust that farming just can't maneuver. Whoa is my gullet busy savoring! Uhhhh of satisfaction. oh! You know, they should really put a jerky bar on the 5th floor in between legal and the dunking booth. It could help us build traction for the managers-only cabaret we want. In fact, I think I'll bring Darren back one of those celery-silk souvenir purses. He's so easily swayed by inappropriate gift-giving that it just might beguile him into advocacy on our behalf. pause Remember how, after he was given that liquor-filled wiffle ball, he wouldn't stop volunteering to attend all of Brad's presentations? Hold on, before you answer that, help me signal the waiter."
"Hey hey snap snap coockawoo coockawoo"
"Ah, Good afternoon gentleman, I hope you're enjoying your taste of the eagle's kitchen today. You may have noticed, his beak is quite reflective. Many of our customers say that with just one peer into the beak's shining surface, they can see the miles of land and lore he flies over to bring us his cuisine. Some even see projections of their next orgasm in it - isn't that feather-burningly practical? You're welcome to give his beak a good-luck, fortune-telling polish on the way out. Just hide your hands underneath a towel - he has a phobia of fingers."
"Thanks for the offer, I love what I'm eating. We may even celebrate afterwards by ambushing the rural high school and covering the blackboards with ones and zeroes. I just wanted to ask though - why does my lip quiver while I relish your food?"
"Oh! Of course! Well, we garnish our jerky with nibbles leftover from the loofah escalator. Because hemoglobin is naturally magentic, and the lips are essentially sacs of reserve globbin, we activate the flesh's inner magnet with our trimmings. Your mouth crinkles and your lips vibrate according to the charged iron in your body and on our food. Not only that, the frequency at which we set the dining room's electric pulse is pretty high today- you don't have much control over your mastication rate for this meal fellas!"
"Ooh, thanks, now I understand. I think I'd also like a 2 pound bag of fish eye jerky to go please - make it flounder."
"No problem, enjoy the rest of what's in your mouth."
"Louis, I think I know what I want to be when I die."
"That's apropos Alex, because the way the sun is shining directly into your cleft-open asshole, it's casting a shadow of the silhouettes from the Seventh Sign inside you."
As Editorial Director, I feel it is my duty to weigh in on the machinations of the publication and have duly ruminated upon the vital subjects, mainly: existence, purpose, and the unknowable, here reproduced as a series of both direct and rhetorical questions for the Editorial and Design Director.
Having said my piece, the short essay I wish to submit is something of an exposition on a work of art by Emily Mast that I have never seen. The intention was that she would present the piece, and the text, at the same time during an organized critique. The text would speak in place of her own description of the work. The result was problematic: the audience liked the piece and reacted well to the text, but hated the idea of being forced to read the text in the place of Mast's own account of her work. It was contrived. But i still like the writing, so here it is.
Editorial Director, Facsimile Magazine
What does Facsimile mean to our readers? Contact your and let them know...
By Emily Mast
This statement is an experiment, written by a person who knows the artist only as an acquaintance, and who has no personal experience of the work or its context. It may seem futile and misleading to describe or analyze a work that has not been experienced. The work itself, though, is composed of fragments and deferrals, feeding off a series of sublimations. It is a metaphor of personal experience, submerged in a ritual action, recorded only in sound, and presented as an object, described by someone else.
As a "viewer," the key elements remain intact and legible, and can be successfully imagined at the very least as a set of signifiers. Such is the nature of an essentially conceptual endeavor. The rest is what I would describe as the creative and necessary mis-understanding that comes along with any critique or interpretation of art, no matter how intimate you think your encounter may be.
The test-pressing (dub plate) presented to you with this text has inscribed upon it the sound of Emily Mast arranging, constructing, and then dismantling and destroying a collection of vintage and disused glassware, collected over the course of three months. This process was a compulsive and emotionally guided activity that Mast undertook without fully understanding her own intentions, perhaps up until the actual event of its destruction (the end of the performance, the beginning of the object).
I imagine the sonic qualities of the piece to be quite literal: footsteps, glass on glass, pulverization, shattering cacophony, punctuated by silence. The sonic novelty is limited to an anonymous abstraction. What is significant is the existence of the record as a residue of performance. The joy of listening does not necessarily come from the sound textures themselves but from the evidence of a poetic action, experienced in fragment.
The record is only designed as a test, lasting on average fifty to one hundred plays before warping and fading into white noise. The documentation is itself a slowly pulverizing shard that will return to the sonic dust from which it emerged. It is interesting to consider that the vinyl format is argued by many to be a superior music medium, both in terms of sound and material, as opposed to the fragile and short-lived CD (which only lasts for the half-life of the chemicals upon which the data is imprinted). Interesting that the phonographic record's natal form, the test pressing, only serves to highlight the inherent limitations of any kind of capture or memory, even in so called "archival" formats.
But we have known this for a very long time. History has never been indelible, yet we continue to seek a kind of permanence - to challenge mortality through our manipulation or consumption of materials - buttressing existential terror with and excess of symbolic forms.
Part of the context of this performance recording is that it is symbolic of a process inspired by the end of a significant personal relationship in the artist's life. It has been my experience that when one is trying to process an experience like this...things begin to lose their meaning. In the fog of loss or division, ownership of anything, much less a stable identity in the world seems impossible or at best trivial. One must begin from scratch, with new habits and new associations, rebuilding a stable world.
To me, the impulse to document the process is where Mast ceases to be a person in grief and becomes an artist, creating a context within which to see herself grieving - coming from a still-intact sense of self that reminds her: you are an artist. You make meaning from actions and forms. This must become a knowable form. Thus the recording stands as an abstraction, an accretion, and a medium by which the personal can become static, knowable, and controllable. But again, this form will itself tell a lie, as it fades into obscurity, mis-interpretation, and white noise.
By Igor Vamos
Gene Carson was an eavesdropper — not your garden-variety Peeping Tom, but one of the elite among listeners. He worked for the National Security Agency since its founding in 1952. After forty-six years of service, Carson died, leaving a retirement account worth close to one million dollars to a woman that he felt he knew and loved, but who herself didn’t even know that Carson existed.
Imogene Campbell thought there had been some kind of “computer error” when she received notification of her inheritance, but repeated contact from a Washington law firm convinced her that it was real. A month later, she and her friend Bea Stevenson were taking the long drive from Nebraska to the nation’s capital to collect the money and “assorted possessions” that been left to her by Mr. Carson.
At the law offices, Campbell was somewhat relieved to learn that most of Carson’s personal effects had been turned over to the state. There were a few notable exceptions, however, including a brand new large screen television, a cordless telephone, jewelry, and a pair of women’s shoes. What immediately caught Campbell’s eye, however, was a large wooden footlocker full of books: meticulously kept diaries with dates ranging from 1940 to 1988. As Campbell pored over the handwriting, she was shocked to learn that although they had never met, Carson had used his position at the NSA to obsessively listen to her telephone line and record intimate details of her life for a period of twenty-six years.
Carson’s diaries revealed that his eavesdropping was only made possible by a unique career path. He started out in Signals Intelligence during the war. Only sixteen when he enlisted, he lied about his age to work with the code breakers. He indicated in one diary entry that his superiors knew his real age, but turned a blind eye, treating him as a younger brother and respecting his exceptional mathematical abilities.
After the war, Carson went through a series of jobs, including stints with Bell Labs and General Electric. When the National Security Agency was formed in 1952, the thought of counter-espionage rekindled fond and exciting memories of his signal corps work. He applied for a job and was hired immediately. He worked decrypting Soviet communications, and was thrilled with the challenge at first. After several years, however, the job began to wear thin. As often as they were able to crack the codes, new ones evolved. By the time he had been with the NSA for nine years he was burning out. The diary entries from this period are sporadic, sometimes skipping weeks at a time.
September 15, 1961
Last night I dreamed that I was on a conveyor belt walking, and the belt went the other way, so no matter how much I walked I just stood still.
After consulting with his superiors, Carson was offered a temporary internal transfer. The new job landed him in a communications control center, listening to live civilian telephone conversations. There were numerous different criteria for selecting lines to listen to, but Carson’s specialty was “high risk” civilian lines in regions around high-security government operations. His diary entries indicate that he was intrigued by the work.
August 11, 1962
My new job is kind of like Tobin’s was in `44. He would meet servicemen at the train station in Santa Fe and ask them questions. If they revealed anything about Los Alamos, he reported back, and the men were immediately transferred. Those stories that Tobin told me were great. I always looked forward to summer nights after work at GE fishing from his boat in the river. “Loose lips sink ships,” he’d say. My job is basically like Tobin’s was, except people never even know anyone is asking.
One of the places Carson was charged with listening to blanketed a vast area where three states meet: Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado. A cold war rush had made the small town of Kimball, Nebraska “Missile Center U.S.A.,” a title that the town proudly prints on publicity materials today. Located in the nation’s largest intercontinental ballistic missile array, it seemed a perfect place for Carson to listen to the telephone lines of local civilians, fishing for potential security breaches. It was while listening to a line in Kimball that he first heard Imogene Campbell.
September 12, 1962
Today I heard a woman talk about laundry. Her name was Ima Jean (kind of like my name!), and she nearly made me laugh out loud. She was talking to a friend about lint, and they have some entrepreneurial ideas for what to do with extra lint. They will set up a collection for all the laundries in New York and the lint will be processed by an as yet unknown technology and used to make beautiful things. Those girls talking funny really brightened my day.
Carson continued to tune in to Imogene Campbell every few days. She and her husband ran a small motel. For the NSA, any hotel in a potentially hot geographical area was something to listen to. Even spies need places to stay, but more importantly, if any servicemen from the silos were engaged in illicit meetings, this would be the place. As the weeks passed, Carson listened to Imogene Campbell’s phone more and more, until he was tuning in every day. His diary becomes much more personal.
May 15, 1963
Imogene was very upset today, and I’m not even sure why. She had a long talk with Bea Evans about how she wishes it would warm up and get sunny, but she was so depressed and melancholy. I hope she is in a better mood tomorrow.
By 1964, every entry in the diary was about Imogene Campbell. The accounts grew, becoming more detailed and more speculative. By the end of 1964, two years into writing the diary, crude diagrams appear that map out the telephone connections between Imogene Campbell, her friends and family.
February 5, 1964
Imogene was crying today, and talking to everyone. Charlie got crushed by a combine and died. I felt real bad for Imogene, I wished I could help her. I’m not too sad for Charlie though, Charlie wasn’t so good for her anyway. He was never home except in the middle of winter, and Imogene thinks he should have helped out with the motel and sold the land. If I were Charlie I would have been there to help Imogene and none of this would’ve happened to her.
With Charlie Campbell out of the picture, Gene Carson’s infatuation with Imogene Campbell grew. He was offered a promotion at work, but he turned it down. He was internally investigated for turning down the promotion, but they found nothing extraordinary. Other NSA employees said that Carson continued to identify “good leads” on suspected espionage, and he was very well liked in the office for the stories he told about his days in Signals Intelligence.
Co-workers regularly goaded him into talking about the time in 1942 when he was face to face with Alan Turing, master cryptonalyst and inventor. Turing was being shown through the lab where Carson worked. He looked Carson in the eye as he briskly strode past, and Carson quickly transformed his awestruck, sixteen-year-old stare into a performance of concentration, redirecting his gaze down at the desk. But when he looked down, instead of seeing his work in front of him, he was distracted by Turing’s ankles. Turing’s socks didn’t match, and not only didn’t they match: one was red and the other was blue. Years later, dozens of Carson’s co-workers all got a good laugh out of this story, even though as one co-worker who wishes to remain anonymous put it: “It was only funny because of the way Gene told it. He was trying to be such a man, and then he sees that his hero is wearing clown’s socks!”
Carson was able to keep his job because he was well liked and older. Over the years, however, his co-workers heard the stories less and less, and Carson grew more self absorbed and reclusive. His diary entries grew more emphatic, indicating that he yearned to reach out to Imogene Campbell.
July 11, 1968
Your voice is always with me. Today I went to the bank and told the teller that your birthday was coming up and I wanted to get you a television. The teller really seemed happy about it, and he winked at me when he handed over the money. I know this is just my fantasy but I need something. I’ll put the money back in the bank tomorrow. I can’t get you a TV now. Contact would be treason, I think.
Over the next few years, Carson continued to listen and to write. Once he actually did catch a serviceman from the silos talking freely to his girlfriend in the hotel, and his superiors accepted it as continued justification for listening to Campbell’s motel phone. But the more he listened, the more he wanted to speak.
October 14, 1975
I just want to make contact with you. That’s all I want to do.
The tension created by this passive listening grew, and became the subject of everything Carson wrote in his diaries. He knew he could figure out a way to speak to Campbell, but he also understood that such contact was not very likely to go unnoticed in the agency. He considered a trip to Kimball, but he was acutely aware that if he visited a region he was listening to, he would be discovered for sure. A city would have been fine, but a small town like Kimball would be sure to create a glaring red flag. He began to suffer restless nights and anxiety dreams became commonplace.
December 7, 1979
I dreamed that I was on a very, very top-secret case. It was during the war. All night we had been awake, squinting at vast charts of numbers. I realized that the code was in Turing’s socks. I rushed to the telephone, and called England. I was hysterical with excitement. My fingers fumbled on a giant red telephone. As soon as I heard an answer on the other end of the line, I started to yell. “Get Turing! Hike up his pants legs — it’s in the weave of his socks, when they line up you can solve the cipher!” And then I shut up, cupped my hand over my mouth, and slammed the phone back into the receiver. I forgot. The Germans were probably listening. Now Hitler would win the war, and it was all my fault. Luckily, I woke up before it got worse.
By the 1980s, Carson was fighting to keep his job alive. There had always been a healthy budget, but now younger people he didn’t know were starting to manage his division. The “new guys” didn’t remember Carson’s stories, and began to see him as dead wood that needed to be cleared out. With the older people that knew and respected him he had always been able to make arguments that kept the listening job afloat, but the new managers kept pressing to close it down. New technologies were changing the way that the NSA did business. Supercomputers tracking data was much more important than a bank of phone operators.
March 12, 1985
I think you should get a cordless phone. Then you can move around the house easier and talk to me more. I have to hear you more now. I cannot lose you. They can’t replace my love for you with a computer. A computer cannot listen. Computers only look. Key words mean nothing. I love you Imogene.
In 1986, Ronald Reagan dedicated the new NSA building complex on the grounds of Fort Meade, Maryland. It was Carson’s worst nightmare; he was given a job at the new complex, and his listening program was completely phased out. He found himself in an office underground.
November 11, 1987
The new building looks like a computer. It is so impersonal. I used to love Turing, but now I hate him. If he didn’t exist maybe the computer wouldn’t exist. Then I could still hear you Imogene. There is nothing personal about the computer. I cannot continue without you. Every day on his way in and out of the building, Carson would sigh as he passed the memorial to fallen cryptologists killed in the line of duty. Engraved on the granite pyramid were the words “They Served In Silence.”
Carson’s co-workers saw his health deteriorate, but no one said anything. Later they recalled that he looked emaciated, never spoke, and always wore an expression of despair. But at the time, they just didn’t think it was a problem. After the Christmas holiday in 1988 he never came back to work. The coroner’s report showed a lack of nourishment. He had stopped eating in November, starving himself to death. His last entry reads as follows:
December 23, 1988
I remember when you used to tell me that fruit from the supermarket is tasteless. I agree with you. If small markets work, why do we need the super markets? I miss you.
At the urging of friends, Imogene Campbell released the diaries to the press. Although the story was published in several liberal newspapers, the NSA discounted the diaries as unsubstantiated fantasy. Nonetheless, Campbell was grateful to have the money. She used it to pay off her outstanding debt from years of operating in the red after the interstate bypassed her motel. Today she lives comfortably in Kimball, where she watches the large screen television almost every night, and uses the cordless phone to talk to her friends.
Opa was a musical group from the country of Uruguay. Uruguay is a small South American country south of Brazil and east of Argentina. Opa consisted of Hugo Fattoruso, Ruben Rada and Ringo Theilemans. Hugo Fattoruso was big fan of synthesizers and together they recorded two albums; Goldenwings in 1976 and Magic Time in 1977 before going their separate ways.
Thank you Emily for introducing me to Opa!
There are times when words fail to convey the depths of brotherly feeling, when in this dangerous service of ours, some man is called upon to pay the extreme penalty which this work exacts. There is not a man in the department whose heart does not go out in sympathy to those who are left behind, for not one of us knows that the next alarm of fire may be the last call for him.
- Chief Engineer Ralph J. Scott in a letter to the mother of Fireman Ercil G. Morse of Truck 5, who was killed in the line of duty, April, 1924
Story by Eric Malnic and Time Waters, Times Staff Writers
One firefighter was killed and at least eight others were injured early Wednesday when the roof of a burning restaurant in North Hollywood collapsed. The collapse occurred without warning, fire officials said, dragging Thomas G. Taylor to his death as flames licked up into the pre-dawn sky. Three other men were left clinging to a parapet 20 feet above the street. One was pulled to safety on a ladder, but the other two fell to the pavement below. The two who fell were fireman Burton E. Sander, whose left arm was broken, and Fire Capt. Michael Reagan, who suffered severe burns on his hands, face and legs and possible back injuries. Several other men on the roof--and one on the ladder, who made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to save Taylor--suffered burns, bruises, cuts and sprains before they managed to crawl to safety.
Los Angeles Fire Chief John C. Gerard said the roof collapsed because the design standards in use when the 45-year-old structure was built made it especially vulnerable to fire. He said there are "hundreds--maybe thousands--" of such buildings across the city. Cugee's Restaurant at 5300 Lankershim Blvd. had been closed for business for several hours when the fire--the cause of which was not determined--was reported at about 3:30 a.m. The first firefighters who responded from a station four blocks from the coffee shop saw only a small "red glow" when they peered through the windows, according to Willis Martin, a spokesman for the department." Several firefighters placed ladders on the side of the building and climbed to the roof, where they started to cut a hole to ventilate the blaze--standard practice in such fires, according to Chief Gerard.
"Taylor had started the chainsaw and was beginning to make the cuts when the roof started to go," Sanders said later.
Mike Meadows, a Times photographer standing on the ground, heard shouts for help and looked up toward the roof.
"I saw a pair of hands grasping the parapet," he said. "Then a face appeared. It was a guy I know--Bud Lawson--and he was in trouble...""They put up a ladder and turned the hose on him, and someone pulled Bud onto the ladder." As the roof sagged, dragging Taylor with it, Thomas A. Shrout, one of those on the ladder, reached toward Taylor's outstretched hand. "Shrout reached down several times to try to grab Taylor, but all he could reach was his fingertips," Asst. Fire Daryl Thompson said later. "Then Taylor disappeared..." "Shrout started to cry..."
By that time, Sander and Reagan had managed to pull themselves to the parapet and lower themselves over the edge, dangling by their hands over the street. Firefighters tried to push a ladder within reach, but it was too short.
"It was getting hot, "Sander recalled later. "I tired to hang on but it was just too hot. I finally had to let go."
Sander dropped without a sound, followed moments later by Reagan.
Firefighters and policemen rushed to their aid as the two lay there, Sander's legs tangled in the rungs of the ladder that had been too short to save him.
Sander was admitted to Riverside Hospital, where his condition was reported to be good. Reagan was taken to the burn ward at Sherman Oaks Hospital, where he was listed as "serious but stable."
The others injured included Lawson and Shrout, later treated for burns and smoke inhalation, Alan Masumoto, James R. Beach and Garry J. Ingram, who were treated for bruises, sprains and contusions, and Ronald S. Lydecker, who suffered second-degree burns on his face. It took firefighters almost an hour to extinguish the fire, which apparently started in the attic of the restaurant, according to fire officials. Damage was estimated at $175,000.
At a press conference, Chief Gerard said the building was constructed about 1935, before stricter building code requirements prompted by the 1933 Long Beach earthquake had taken effect. The roof of the unreinforced brick structure was supported by wooden beams nailed into wooden "shingles" wedged between bricks, Gerard said. As the fire under the roof heated, the nails weakened and the roof collapsed, the chief said.
"With all those buildings in the city, there's no way to guarantee it won't happen again," he said.
"It's essential to ventilate the roof in combating this kind of fire." he said, but in an effort to avert similar tragedies in the future, "we will continue to examine our procedures, trying to improve them." Gerard asked residences not to forget that "Tom Taylor gave his life for your protection and safety." Taylor, 34, was married and had two children from a previous marriage, according to department information officer Ray Walker. His father, George, and brother, Jeff, are also members of the department. Taylor was the fourth Los Angeles firefighter to die in the line of duty in the last two years.
Story By Eric Malnic, Times Staff Writer
The death of a Los Angeles firefighter in a North Hollywood restaurant fire has changed from an apparent accident to a case of murder, arson investigations said.
"That fire definitely was deliberately set," Capt. Pat McGuinness of the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
"We are now presenting our evidence to the U.S. attorneys office. We now have a murder."
Firefighter Thomas G. Taylor, 34, died when the roof the burning Cugee's Restaurant at 5300 Lankerskim Blvd. collapsed. Eight of he firemen were injured in the pre-dawn blaze. Fire experts from the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were called in to assist the Fire Department's arson squad when it became apparent that the blaze might have been set. Treasury agent Bob Skopec said the arson investigators' suspicions were confirmed when the federal arson team determined that the fire had started at several different points more or less simultaneously, fueled by a "chemical compound."
While Skipec declined to identify the compound, one of the federal arson team members described it as "a flammable liquid, the one you use in your car." McGuinness declined to describe any possible motives or suspects in the crime, saying only that "we have some ideas." Skopec said Treasury agents, Fire Department arson investigators and Los Angeles Police Department homicide detectives are "handling the interviewing of all witnesses, talking to anyone that might have information related to the fire." The U.S. attorney's office is being consulted in the case because of their involvement of federal investigators, McGuinness said.
By Frisbee Jackson
I thought of a new anti-drug ad, based on those that are themed with the "How are you going to explain to your *insert loved one(s) here* that you couldn't *insert crucial activity here* because you were getting high."
It begins with a shot of the Eugene Hecht Physics book third edition and an open blank notebook. A mechanical pencil, slightly askew, is near the spiral of the notebook. Then it widens to a shot of a little Asian girl with a plastic object in her hands, intently facing the television. Loud clicking noises are frequent and it becomes apparent that she is jamming to "Through the Fire and Flames." Then it cuts to:
*female voice over* "How are you going to explain to your physics teacher that you failed the test because you were playing Guitar Hero III?"
Then it fades...
into the story of my life.
This issue is dedicated to the loving memory of Zhang Xueshen.