A number of the boyhood memories I've received describe this peculiar magic. I'll be publishing more along the way. For now, here's a quirky and evocative one that I particularly like. It's written by the Los Angeles-based artist Bob Zoell, whose long, distinguished, and cheerfully irreverent career has been a source of delight and inspiration to those who follow it. Bob also gave me permission to show you an example of his work, below. It's as precise, in its own medium, and as quirky as this diverting piece of writing. So here we go:
Excerpts from DUCK’S A WANKER (1983)
By Bob Zoell
By Bob Zoell
Everybody was on welfare and drank cheap port by the gallon. The halls smelled of port, cabbage and poor people’s hopes. The parents had to drink to think about survival so they sat around drinking and thinking and not doing very much. I remember how slow it was and the smell of not caring. The stinky pungent halls, puke and musty odor from the rotting community showers reminded us how poor we were. Dirty little hands, bugs, buggers and scabs decorated the halls.
We snared rabbits by the river and one of them chewed off its leg. We stole chickens from the coop and wrung their necks as we ran; we plucked those chickens in the dark by the river and roasted those guys on the ends of sticks with their assholes up in the air; we laughed and farted and rolled around in the stink and the smoke of those half-plucked chickens and blood. Burnt feathers and blood is what made us sick so we just threw the damn chickens away.
Duck plops himself on an old wooden bench next to the shower stall. He unbuttoned his pants and reached in but it seemed to come out by itself like it didn’t need him. It looked like a giant caterpillar without its coat and flopped out like it needed air. It plopped and flopped against his leg and then just dangled there. We took turns touching it and squeezing it. It felt funny, mine didn’t feel like that – it wasn’t fat and squishy and when it got hard it looked like a stick or a pencil -- Duck’s looked like a fat sausage.
I pulled down my pants, spit in my hand and worked it up hard like a pencil – a little purple pencil. I start to pull it and squeeze just like Duck. It felt good, a new feeling. I kept pulling and feeling, then it was right there, it didn’t wait, it wanted out. It came like angels leading a parade, I could feel the clowns, dancing girls, acrobats, fire-eaters and space men. They wore funny hats and danced on wooden legs; they were making the sign of the cross and laughing; they did the dishes and carried flags -- American flags. It was a miracle, a wonderful fucking miracle!