Culture and Society
If you’re not familiar with waterbugs, if you’ve confused them with some kind of delicate creature that skips along the surface of a lake, you are adorable. Waterbugs are enormous cockroaches. Specifically they are two to four inches long: meaty, definitive proof that there is no God.
The copper is the easiest, isn’t it, vandal? You can clear the whole house with a hammer and a hacksaw. Start in the basement at the water heater. If the property has been properly winterized, the water will be shut off, and even if it hasn’t been, it takes hours for a basement to flood and days for someone to notice. (Just make sure the power is off, for real. In April they found a fried vandal in a cellar in Pontiac, Michigan, his body bobbing as high as the window well.)
In our culture, when you have a medical problem, you visit a doctor, who writes you a prescription; then you drive to a pharmacy and pay thirty-two dollars for a medication. There are few surprises or slip-ups. But if you decide to single-handedly reconnect with a lost ancient lineage of herbal wisdom, you may end up with a short spear of garlic bearing down on your eardrum.
I had once believed in answers, saviors, miracles, and sages; divine justice and ideal love; the discovery of a lost Taoist parable or a missing biblical passage; a scientific intervention or progressive sociopolitical system that would liberate the oppressed; perhaps even news from NASA about habitable planets accepting applications for novelists. But I knew now that none of this would happen. The letter from a publisher, the spiritual breakthrough, the scientific solution, the literary prize, the big-hearted city, the understanding woman — they were all a mirage.
To give me a better shot at catching a long-distance ride, my father dropped me off at the Pine Valley entrance to Interstate 8, about forty miles east of San Diego. He waited till I’d arranged my equipment along the roadside, then took out his camera.
For the last eight years, Michael Dvorak has photographed people in his home state of Minnesota. Taken at county fairs, parades, and on the streets in and around Minneapolis, the images are part of a series he calls “Close to Home.”
From outside, Jumbo’s was nothing more than a black-painted steel door in a brick wall, above which was a sign with a grinning yellow clown. When a customer came or went, the door would open for a moment, and I could glimpse the rich blackness of its interior and smell stale beer and cigarette smoke. Especially in the evenings, the illuminated yellow clown sign called out to me.