Wednesday, September 28, 2005

An open letter to Kurt Vonnegut

Dear Mr. Vonnegut,

We here at The Bow and Grimace would like for you to consider a special 21st century edition of your classic Slaughterhouse 5. Our request comes due to the growing evidence that the anti-glacier movement is actually gaining steam. This is of course a reference to the conversation you recount with movie-maker Harrison Starr on page 3 of the 1991 Laurel edition:
"You know what I say to people when I hear they're writing anti-war books?"
"No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?"
"I say, 'Why don't you write an anti-glacier book instead?"
What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too.
You see, Mr. Vonnegut, with all of the youngsters that read your book in middle and high-school (aside from the countless adults, such as ourselves), we believe that it would be sending a wrong message to our youth that ending war and stopping glaciers are tantamount in their level of difficulty. This is because most evidence points to retreating glaciers, while on the other hand one need only watch the nightly news to see that war is just a darned resiliant critter. Sure, there's evidence to show that the amounts of wars in the world are declining, but these days wars are just so easy to start, you know? Moreover, all we have to do to keep the ice caps on the run is to leave our lights on when we're not home or drive one of those wicked-cool H2 Hummers.

Mr. Vonnegut, we have nothing but the utmost respect for you, but we would be honored if you would just treat us to this one request: Change "anti-glacier" to "anti-orbit" or "anti-ocean." Neither of those causes has nearly the same chances of success as the anti-glacier movement does these days.

Thank, and have a good day, sir.

Best Regards,
The Bow and Grimace

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

This just in...

The Bow and Grimace has been informed that only about 20 percent of people understand irony.

We are consequently issuing a statement that for 80 percent of our readers, the subject matter will be awesome. For the other twenty percent, however, the material will be awesome.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Walking the Elysian Fields at night...

The metro pulled up to the platform and it was packed with people, because there had been fireworks at La Defense earlier that night. We pushed our way into the congested car, crammed up against each other. I struggled to pull my arm up and look at my watch, then I looked at Fanfan as she rocked gently back and forth with the crowd as the train wobbled through the tunnel. I turned my watch to her, and she gasped. I nodded.

Nous sommes un peu en retard,” I said, stating the obvious. We had left when we supposed to be arriving to meet our friends for Nino’s birthday. No surprises there.

She just smiled.

We changed lines, and as the doors shut Fanfan realized we were going in the wrong direction. At the next stop, we switched directions, passing Franklin D. Roosevelt again, then getting off at George V. Finally, thirty minutes late, we ascended from the dark into the neon and contradiction of the Elysian Fields.

Elle nous attend devant le Gap,” said Fanfan. I asked her where the Gap was, and she smiled again. Je suis pas sure—par là, je croix,” she said pointing in the direction we were already walking.

Her guess was better than mine.

I had vowed never to go to the Gap again several years ago when I was looking for a pair of pants and—as I strolled through the Capri pants and fur coats in the men’s section—I suddenly became embarrassed, thinking that maybe I had been in the women’s section all along. I left quickly, not making eye contact with anyone. That said, I didn’t know where the Gap was in Citadel Mall, much less the Champs-Elysées.

The wide sidewalks of the Champs-Elysées are as fascinating as they are depressing. It is the perfect study of contrasts. All of the storefronts are as elegant and well-maintained as the products they sell: Mercedes-Benz, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, McDonald’s, etc. The clubs and bars are mostly hazy and low-lit, like mysterious art swamps or murky, black-light space terrains. Yet, the urine scented sidewalks outside are littered with broken bottles and paper bags. There is a sense of filth in the air that hovers over the walkways.

Fanfan and I walked briskly on, through the river of people moving en masse in the opposite direction, with other people flitting here and there like minnows. A man was standing with his back to us, screaming at a night club owner who had apparently done him wrong. He had a bottle of wine in the hand that waved out in front of him, pointing his finger as he yelled. As we passed him, he sat down in the only space open on a crowded bench, and all of the people scattered like scared flies on a sandwich when a hand’s coming down. He stopped yelling abruptly as he passed out of my peripheral vision. Fanfan turned and chuckled. I looked back and saw three policiers standing before the man, calmly questioning his presentation.

T’es sure alors que le Gap est là-bas?” I asked, pointing again in the direction we were walking.

Pas du tout,” answered Fanfan.

I said maybe we should turn around, but she said she really had a feeling that it was up ahead. I told her that girls (especially girlfriends) are always right.

Sure enough, she was right. We passed under some scaffolding, and there on the other side stood the Gap, where poor little Nino sat glaring at us. We apologized, and she feigned disapproval—or, rather, half-genuine disapproval, half-sarcastic.

I let Fanfan explain everything in Chinese—things are much easier for me that way—we sat and talked for a couple of minutes. I gave Nino a letter I had written about twenty minutes before we left. Then, Fanfan decided she was thirsty, as was I, and—in an effort to let Fanfan smooth things over with Nino as well as get in touch with Lumi—I went to McDonald’s to get her an orange juice and myself a bottle of water. When I got back, we started off going in the direction we had come from, and Nino decided she wanted ice cream.

As she and Fanfan descended into the belly of the giant Monoprix that stood like the bow of some giant, concrete luxury ship on the corner, I looked for a trashcan to toss our empty cups in. I walked in circles around the area in front of Monoprix, searching behind a bus stop and a telephone booth. There was no trash can.

When I turned, I noticed a song I like blaring from one of the shops and glanced around to see from where it came. A large black spot caught my eye, and I noticed that standing by one of the benches stood a woman completely covered in a black burka.

She stood motionless, and through the little oval slit across her face I could see her eyes fixed on me. I looked away quickly, but I couldn’t hold out that long before I looked back. Standing there, frozen for an instant, cradling a tiny McDonald’s orange juice cup and a bottle of water, and staring at this little spot of black in front of the gaping, red throat of the Virgin Megastore, where my song was coming from.

Before this background several stories high of spotlights, red-lit rooms, and giant promotional posters bursting with colors stood this little woman in black with two little eyes that looked back at me. She never moved, she just looked at me.

I walked two blocks, realizing why there is so much trash on the ground everywhere: there are no trashcans! Every other rue and boulevard has a trash receptacle, it seems, every fifty yards or so, yet from the Gap on up I never saw one of the little green trash hoops that I see everywhere else. I finally ended up using the boxed-in trashcans on a restaurant terrace.

Walking by myself, I was without distraction—which is probably why I was willing to go so far without just adding to the rest of the trash around me—I just watched people pass me. Once when I was a kid, my mom told me I was very observant, and it’s stuck with me. I’ve always tried to notice things that other people don’t when they pass by—which isn’t to say that I do, rather to say that I like to try when I’m walking alone.

I was passed by a group of six girls making noise, clanking pots and pans. They were walking behind one girl costumed with a mop wig, pillow breasts and posterior, painted face, and different color socks. It was her bachelorette party. This is something I’ve noticed here, bachelor(ette) celebrations are not so much for the soon-to-be-married as they are at the expense of those persons. On my birthday, I saw another guy wearing a sandwich board that said he was getting married. He was dressed as a girl and was at the command of about four of his friends.

These girls, banging pans and screaming orders at their festooned friend, were just part of the spectacle of the Champs-Elysées.

They were an intentional act in the accidental exhibition that takes place there every night. I myself was playing the role of the outside observer, not really considering myself part of the play, but every play has that. I was the narrator being entangled in the plot just by presenting it. Even extras have a part, right?

The other actors in the Champs-Elysées theater are the sans abris—the pity peddling homeless that are everywhere, though more exaggerated on the Champs-Elysées. I don’t say this so much derogatorily as uncomfortably, seeing as I want to devote myself to aiding those that have less than me—starting, frankly, by doing what I haven’t been doing. I feel conflicted and inept enough when I pass the quotidian slew of homeless here in Paris, but I feel so horribly torn when I see those there in the Elysian Fields—so much so that it makes me angry that they do that to me. “They” are people, and I don’t mean to seem so insensitive about it—but until I do something with myself that makes their life better, I have to describe “them” in the same way I and everyone else treats them when we walk by, looking at the wall behind them or at the leaves at their feet—not in their eyes. If a person’s existence were judged by the way he is treated, they wouldn’t exist, and to many people they don’t.

To be blunt, there’s another side, which is to say “their” lives aren’t “our” fault. Yet, there are those honest people that were dealt a bad hand.

Case in point, the first night I was at the Champs-Elysées, there was a man walking on all fours, but his knees didn’t touch the ground. He walked like an animal. His knees were twisted backwards, like a quadruped—which is to say, when he bent his knees, his toes came up towards his pelvis, not his heels to his butt. He had a flat-bottomed bowl that he hit with his hand as he walked and it skidded down the sidewalk. He would take about three steps and flick the bowl that would jingle ahead of him up the sidewalk. He smiled the whole time.

I don’t know if it’s possible for someone to be double-jointed in the knees, so I don’t know if he could fake what he was doing. Seeing it, though, was indescribably rending because of the millions of thoughts that run through you’re mind.

I didn’t see him the night of Nino’s birthday, though. The first beggar I passed a large Arab lady with a pastel blue headscarf whom I had also seen the first time I was there. She was sitting on the sidewalk, in the same place across from the storefronts. Her right leg was stretched out unbent, but her left leg ended abruptly at the knee. She had even provided a hole through which everyone can see the end of the nub and the long thick scar on the tip. I watched everyone pass her. The scores of rich Arabs passed her too—one lady with a black headscarf closed tightly around her chin and a long flowing robe muttered something to her as she passes, but I couldn’t hear it.

I mention that not because this is a commentary on some sort of Arab hypocrisy or malevolence. It’s just what I saw. Two people that most here in the West presume would have so much in common—a common cause and conviction—were so far apart.

This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from traveling and living abroad: the nationality-union or culture-union myth that says people from one place or one background naturally cohere to one another. The truth is that we’re all just as (un)likely to get along with someone foreign to us as we are to someone from our hometown.

I went back to meet Fanfan and Nino. The song was still blaring from the Virgin Megastore, but the lady enveloped in the black burka was gone. I leaned against the wall outside the Monoprix, and the bachelorette parade passed me again. This time, however, there were four guys walking with them, and the whole group was speaking Arabic.

Fanfan and Nino came out after a couple of minutes with a little cup of Ben & Jerry’s. We walked down toward l’Arc de Triomphe passed the cinemas and the world renowned bar Queen. It started to drizzle as we approached, and I started to get my hopes up that we might not get to play the Queen Game for Nino’s birthday—she had had a whole night and an hour in front of the Gap to think about what she was going to make us do, and I wasn’t looking forward to it.

We passed another of the sans abris in front of the giant make-up emporium Sephora.

While on one side of the sidewalk, there was the regal, shimmering entrance of Sephora—a small tunnel that opened up onto a vast countryside dappled with fields of lipstick blossoms and eyeliner orchards—on the other side in the dark, face down on the pavement, was the half person. This was also the second time I had seen the half person. I don’t know if it’s a man or a woman, because it was completely covered by its baggy, faded sweatshirt. The half person didn’t appear to have any semblance of a body below its waste, not even the stubs of legs.

It looks as though the half-person is standing waste deep in a hole in the sidewalk, like it’s supposed to be a magic trick or something. It doesn’t move at all, only rests with its forehead on the pavé.

Lumi and two of her friends visiting from Taiwan were huddled on the sliver of dry sidewalk under the eaves of one of the buildings. We talked and debated about if we were going to play the Queen Game—I use “we” lightly, because all of the debating was done in Chinese, with Fanfan blurting updates every couple of seconds. My hopes were shattered when the group started to walk to the patch of open space beside the sidewalk. There, Nino pulled little bits of apparel from her bag and handed them out to everyone, and finally turned to me smiling and pulled out a dress for me to put on.

There, under the amber light of the Arc de Triomphe, Lumi hummed the tune to a Chinese techno-aerobics song while she, Fanfan, and I did the pre-ordained Chinese techno-aerobics dance. Tourists walked past us, snapping pictures of themselves in front of the arc, then turning and taking pictures of us. We had become a part of the spectacle.

We laughed, and we took the costumes off. We walked down into the subway and said our goodbyes as we headed to different lines. As we made our way home, wet from the rain, I didn’t remember much of anything that was said the whole evening. My head was so full of images: the ritzy, the sordid, the bright lights, the black burka, the poverty, the side-show acts, and the wealth. As we rumbled back to our apartments that night, the exhibition at the Champs-Elysées continued, as I’m sure it does this very minute and all the time, and I’m glad not to be near it.

Robo the liberal comes clean...

“Robo’s such a nice guy, but why does he hate America so much?”

I have to admit, first, that this question makes me grin every time I think about it. Not because it’s true—I’m not reveling in the satisfaction that people are finally catching on to some anti-American stink I carry—rather I grin because it’s funny in the same sense that it was funny that I spent the night of my college graduation walking seven miles on a dark, rainy highway in flip-flops—which is to say that it’s comically unfunny, like any Ben Stiller movie.

The question was posed by a friend of mine to one of my best friends during a fleeting conversation about my departure for Paris that had been several days before. I don’t remember the response that was given to the questioner, but I wish it had been something along the lines of

Why—for the same reason he sleeps in pig-skin pyjamas or the same reason he climbs flagpoles during thunderstorms—the obvious response, I hope, being He doesn’t.

My—and Will’s for that matter—perceived hatred or distaste of America has been a joking matter for quite some time now, especially since I voted for Kerry. My sister jokingly calls me a communist or a socialist—depending on the subject—and I’m never invited to barbeques anymore for fear that all the guests would lose their appetite when I throw the flag on the coals and start yelling, “That cloth is soaking with more than 200 years of blood!”

Okay, so that’s all fine and good. I don’t mind the jokes, assuming they are as such. The fact is that this friend of mine saw my desire to live other places, learn about other cultures, and all that other find-myself, coming-of-age crud that no one ever truly believes when you tell them; and she extrapolated some sort of America hatred. She’s not the first person to say something like that. I’ve had good friends—friends who joke all the time about it—ask me, “Okay, but, Robo, in all seriousness—” Which means, All this time I’ve been joking, I’ve been trying to conceal the awkward fact that I love my country and its people but you don’t. That’s when they say, “Robo, why do you hate us? That’s what the terrorists want.” (That’s not really a direct quote.)

My gosh, I think, I had steak and freedom fries for dinner just last night, and, damn, I love freedom kissing!

But, none of that matters once you’ve voted for a long-faced, hippy, pro-terrorist, bilingual (French-speaking for that matter), elitist, Democrat. Not to mention, you’ve done a fair amount of traveling to some of these countries, and you have friends from even more of them. You can’t be expected to form a well-founded, truly-American ideology when you’ve been tainted by so much outside mumbo-jumbo.

Before I left for college five years ago, I was always proud that at least for a fair amount of people I was the “nice guy” who was there and was to be trusted. People I didn’t even know would tell me they appreciated the way I treated them and made them comfortable. Now, after four years of college, living in two countries, traveling to fourteen others, staying with families from Italy to Sweden to Ireland, learning a second language, starting a third and a fourth, making friends from Nigeria to Brazil to Japan, one Taiwanese girlfriend, two world trade center towers, and three universities, I come home and told people, when asked, that there might be more than what we see here and that it might be more important for our lives here for us to go there and see. I say, “We’re really not that different from ‘them.’” I say that I have friends from South Korea that are scared sometimes, and that they’re not just people on the news. Then people, look back at me and say, “Man, you’ve changed.”

I’m not picketing or screaming or blaming. I’m not even raising my voice. I’m smiling, and I’m just saying.

Well, the jury’s in, Robo is now a tree-hugging, internationalist, and he wants to give the terrorists therapy rather than “smoke them out.” He doesn’t want to watch “freedom on march” over the Hindu Kush and through the streets of Fallujah, build democracies in pretty straight lines over the rubble of tyranny, or any number of the present analogies and anthropomorphized agendas that are presently being tossed around. If so, then, let’s take a look.

Robo the Liberal

When I was eighteen, I voted for the first time in the 2000 election for none other than George W. Bush. As a kid, my father—who is largely responsible for the way I look at the world—always told me that Ronald Reagan was the best president we ever had, and I always had an affinity for him seeing as he was president when I was born—I remember distinctly how bizarre I felt seeing George H. W. Bush sitting in the oval office when I was six years old (I had had no idea—that I can remember—that he had been Vice-President).

I was basically a poster child for a homegrown, conservative Republican. Throughout my schooling, all private and religious—Episcopal, Baptist, and Catholic—and growing up in the Presbyterian Church, I was instilled with good Republican values: pro-life (thusly, anti-death), the right to worship freely, etc. Coming from a large, very tight-knit family, I was certainly pro-family values. As for guns, I wanted them because I was a hunter and didn’t have a bow and arrow. Last but not least, I had never had to actually “pick myself up by my bootstraps”—not meaning I was spoiled, but that I was always cared for—so I was pro-“pick yourself up by your bootstraps.”

It’s thanks to this background that, though I’m a liberal, I still don’t think conservatives/Republicans are bad people. I know that’s not a rule, but it’s getting to be that if you (a) believe one thing then you are (b) totally against it’s opposite (or if you are (a) against one thing then you are (b) for its opposition). For instance, a sample conversation:

The “War on Terror” (a.k.a. “a global struggle against the enemies of freedom”):

“I think pre-emptive strikes are dangerous to our future,” I say.

“So you think we should just sit around and wait for another attack?” is the response I’m often met with.

“Um. No.”


“I think that making abortion illegal won’t help anything.”

“So you think it’s fine that women just go to the doctor and kill their babies.”

“Gosh, you read my mind.”

These are just a couple examples of the opposite-game that people play. I’m not saying that to patronize, because I’m sure I’ve done the same thing myself, and God knows I’ve caught a lot of crap from self-avowed liberals—keep in mind, I’ve been told I’m a liberal—that I’m an apologist or a fake, because I don’t think the opposite side is a band of greedy, racist, patriots lighting their torches for a witch hunt.

Now that I’m a liberal and I’ve change, let’s take a closer look:


When he was a kind, young, conservative gentleman.

After he changed into an angry, whiny liberal

Pro-life (anti-death)

Family Values

Right to worship freely

To preface my explanation to how this can be possible, I want to tell a little story. As a part of my Anti-Americanism class—no joke, that’s a real class, it was to look at the causes for anti-Americanism, not a how-to class—we had a panel discussion in which three liberals and three conservatives fielded questions from the class of about a hundred, and I was one of the chosen “liberals.” We debated things like same-sex marriages, foreign policy, etc. Every time one of us from one side got up and gave the other side a piece of our mind, someone from the other side would get up and say, “Actually, we agree.” The frequency with which this happened astounded me, because most of the people in the conservative group were—to be somewhat imprecise with my terminology—very conservative, and we had some rabid ones on our side as well—myself being the calm-headed voice of reason, of course.

I say this because one of the biggest things to get lost in all of this bickering in politics right now, is the fact that we all want the same thing—those of us who try to be as honest and just as possible. We care about ourselves, our families, and our fellow man. The difference is in our strategies on how to best achieve that.

The difference in your everyday liberal and everyday conservative is not that one baths in oil and that other doesn’t bath at all, it that the two see a different path to the same end.

That said, I’ll start with abortion. I’m still staunchly opposed to abortion, and I would love to see it put to an end. So, Robo, you may ask, how can you be anti-death and pro-choice at the same time? Good question. Well, simply, I don’t believe that making abortion illegal will in any way stop abortion. Say it were to be made illegal, the biggest difference would be the amount of babies left in dumpsters and ally-ways across the country. Legislation making abortions illegal would end abortions in the same way that making drugs illegal has so effectively ended the drug problem. Something that people often forget is that nobody actually wants to have an abortion, just like no one wants to be a junkie. That doesn’t mean that it’s going to stop, because people make mistakes, to put it very mildly.

Moving along quickly, you can thusly extrapolate my response to freedom of worship (that means freedom of all to worship, not just Christians….okay so I’ll just tell you why, no extrapolation needed) and family values (they’re for families not for the FCC). I mean, isn’t trying to get the government to butt out of our lives a conservative Republican thing?

Now, back to being in a foreign country and hating America. When people over here ask me about America, I laugh at them—not condescendingly, just out of the shear immensity of the question juxtaposed by the nonchalant manner in which it was asked—then I tell them there are two US’s (I can’t say two Americas, because there really are two—North and South….oh, well, I guess there’s Central also). There is the US that I grew up in, where I watched baseball games, where my family and friends are, where the first two decades of my life were spent. Then, there’s the other America that you watch on the news at night. It’s the one with racial problems, it’s the one at war, and it’s the one that was attacked on 9-11. There’s a huge difference between the two, and when I speak critically of America, it’s the second one I’m talking about. Just like when I criticize France, it’s the one that can’t handle racism and a corrupt history in foreign countries that I’m criticizing, not the one that feeds me well and goes out of its way to make me feel welcome.

That’s the most important thing to remember. If people remembered that, there never would be a 9-11, I’m convinced.

Finally, on a much larger scale and more importantly than all, I find patriotism to be one of the most repugnant traits in any country—to be clear that I’m not talking about just American patriotism. When I see all of the cars passing with American flags stickers and stickers that say “Let’s Roll,” I feel nothing but frustration. This isn’t because I want to keep people from loving where they are from. I myself love every aspect of the Lowcountry and of Charleston—the smell of pluff mud, the salt air, the heat, the beach, everything. That’s because it is what I know, and it is where my memories are. It is not because I think it’s better than someone else’s home. Furthermore, I know I am lucky to have been born in America, where there is so much opportunity.

That isn’t patriotism, that’s natural. When people take pride in history—the decades and centuries before their birth—and in the power of their country, that is what I can’t support. History is something to learn from and something to aspire to make, it is not something to take as one’s own or for his country. The power of a country is only as prolonged as the spirit of its people and their willingness to do their part.

A country is not a flag, or a status symbol. There was a comedian in the 90s named Bill Hicks who joked when talking about flag burning (paraphrase):

I hate those people that come up to me after I joke about flag burning.

“I don’t like what you said about the flag,” they say. “My father died for that flag.”

“That’s funny,” I say, “I bought mine.”

“My father died in Korea so that you have the right to burn that flag.”

“Wow! My flag says ‘Made in Korea’!”

My grandfather was a lieutenant colonel in WWII. He sacrificed more than a year of his life fighting against something that was evil. My grandmother gave birth to their first daughter while he was away. He came home a decorated veteran—silver star, bronze star, and purple heart. My grandfather didn’t do all of that for a flag.

Does Robo hate America? No. My life is there. True, I hate a lot of things that the government does—in full knowledge of the good things my country has done—but that doesn’t make me hate the people that go to and fro, the everyday people. I don’t hate anyone. Thus, when I leave, I don’t do it to escape, but to do my part. I have the interests I have for a reason, and I intend to do what I can to help people—Americans, Chinese, Angolan, or whoever else may come along.

I guess that’s the best way to explain it, when I hear “God Bless America” I can’t help but feel like a kind of middle finger to everyone else in the world. This trait is what leads others to construe me as anti-American—because I’m not so pro-American as I am pro-everyone. When all it is is that I see no reason to view Americans as different from anyone else—no better, no worse. Why not “God bless everyone”? Sure, it sounds corny and naïve, and I know there’s a lot of people that think I’m naïve to think that. Oh well.

I believe in people.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

In the new beginning...

In the new beginning, there was the truth, and it wasn’t a word. It was a million words in a thousand languages, chanting the same thing over and over again. The truth was painted on canvas, it was sung in songs, and it was told in stories in the new beginning.

This is the new beginning, and it’s called The Bow and Grimace.

The B&G is….


Essentially and unavoidably non-partisan, frankly, because we don’t believe in political parties. We think they’re divisive and deceptive. There will UNDOUBTABLY be numerous people who dispute this claim, so let us make it a little clearer. We don’t believe in designating certain political agendas “liberal” or “conservative” because it gives the illusion that the other side can’t or shouldn’t agree. It’s a silly idea, and it gives political hacks the power to control public opinion. Therefore, we have no regard for partisan claims.


With no defined subject more particular than life. The B&G will focus on every aspect of life its writers see as important (just as any other journal): art, politics, philosophy, society, media, science, literature, comics, poetry, Mexican food, bumper stickers, etc.


Unprofessional. We are experts in nothing (again, like most other writers for any given journal), and interested in everything. Among us, we have a vast, intimate, and diverse understanding of the world, but we are not political scientists, anthropologists, or dietitions.

We will write as honestly as humanly possible, and we will welcome even the harshest criticisms like long-lost friends—though we prefer fluffy, flower-scented criticisms just the same.

This is not to say that we will be happy to find how miserably mistaken we can be, but we will be content in the knowledge gained from making mistakes. That said, however, we’ll always be more content to learn from other people’s mistakes.

Furthermore, just any old acerbic disagreement does not pass for criticism. If, for instance, we say, “Carrots are good for you,” but you don’t like carrots—the texture just makes you wanna throw up—that does not give you justification to write back calling us carrotnicks or dorkus caroti (for you witty horticulturists out there). On the contrary, we would prefer for you to write something along the lines of:

Dear B&G,

I found you’re article on carrots disconcerting. I did not find it up to the normal standards of B&G I myself do not like carrots because of the texture, and I would appreciate you presenting a more balanced argument concerning carrots.

To this message, I have graciously attached information on alternatives to carrots that I believe you should have mentioned in your article—which I find too biased towards carrots.

Thank you, and have a good day,

Spinach McShrimp

We do not take kindly to:

You’re just a bunch liberal/conservative carrot lovers! I hope your skin turns orange!! Or red, like the commie/red-state bastard you are!



Without fault. That is to say that, there is a truth in every word which may not be the words spoken, but the meaning conveyed. We are students of deconstruction and orientalism by design, not by choice. Anyone who believes the truth comes only from strict explanation need only watch political speeches from any politician in any party in any country—there you will see the Truth is not what’s being said, but what’s understood.

We know that some people will want to construe this as us making or forming our own truth, and we pledge with the utmost earnestness that we are not in the business of creating the Truth. We have nothing to gain from lying, and everything to lose. We are searching for the Truth for ourselves and presenting what we find along the way because we know that we cannot find the Truth alone.


Is hopeless romantic, learning to be and act realistically. It’s post-modern and satirical.

In it's representation:

International. We have correspondents on six continents. Our polar correspondant called from Ushuaia:

"Hello," we said when the phone rang.
"Hey, it's you're polar correspondant," he said when after we said "Hello."
"Hey!" we said, gleefully, "How's it goin'?"
"Great! I'm ready to catch my boat. I just called to get the information."
"You have organized my transport to Antarctica, haven't you?"
The line crackled, and Tom muttered something.
"Wait, who is this?" we asked.
"It's Tom, your polar correspondant."
There was an awkward pause here.
Then Tom sighed. "I'm cold. This is long distance," he said, his voice cracking.
"We think you may have the wrong number."
"Why'd you sound like you were expecting me when I called."
"We just thought it was a joke, man," we said, nervously, twurling our right index finger in the phone cord.
There was another really awkward pause, then we said, "Hey, Tom, we gotta dip. The cable company's on the other line with a great deal. We might be able to get HBO and Cinemax!" We hung the phone and looked at each other (in a non-literal sense, seeing as we're on six different continents). "That was close," we said to ourselves.

We no longer have a polar corresponant, however, we'll pursue that avenue once things start heating up in the region (no pun intended). The rest of us are perched in our respective corners (France, America, Argentina, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Nigeria, Brazil, Thailand, etc.), ready to provide a unique experience for all of our readers.


Hasn’t even the hint of patriotism in its air. We are anti-patriots who do all that we do to benefit anyone in any way we can. This is the origin for the Title of this journal. It’s found in one of Joseph Addison's entries in The Spectator (No. 69) on May 19, 1711, in which Addison describes the satisfaction he gets from walking through the Royal Exchange. He describes all of the varied people of the world that are gathered in London “consulting together upon the private Business of Mankind:”

I have often been pleased to hear Disputes adjusted between an Inhabitant of Japan and an Alderman of London, or to see a Subject of the Great Mogul entering into a League with one of the Czar of Muscovy. I am infinitely delighted in mixing with these several Ministers of Commerce, as they are distinguished by their different Walks and different Languages: Sometimes I am justled among a Body of Armenians: Sometimes I am lost in a crowd of Jews, and sometimes make one in a Groupe of Dutch-men. I am a Dane, Swede, or French-Man at different times…

Though Addison takes pride in being an Englishman—for the reason that it is in his country that this beautiful exchange is taking place—he says that if asked his nationality, he’d rather answer that he’s a “Citizen of the World.”

When Addison describes his relationship with an Egyptian man who recognizes Addison—and vice versa—as he walks through the crowd, AddisonCoptick, our Conferences go no further than a Bow and a Grimace.” notes that “as I am not versed in the Modern

This interaction is something we of the B&G know well from living and traveling abroad. The grimace is not one of contempt or of frustration. It’s a communiqué and an acknowledgement that we both know what the other wants to say, but neither one of us can do it in the other’s language. It’s just as genuine as speaking, but perhaps more awkward. The bow shows respect and politesse, while the grimace shows the want for exchange. Anyone who’s learned a new language in a foreign country or had the opportunity to be close people from far away, they’ll certainly, I hope, understand The Bow and the Grimace.

This is the new beginning, and we have big goals. The truth is, though, we’ve got no choice but to do what we’re doing.