Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bring on the Dancing Horses

By Shaun
PO Box 1282
Fullerton, CA
92836, USA

Bring on the Dancing Horses is another zine by the author of There is a Danger, which I reviewed last month. It covers much of the same material as that zine (bicycle trips, exploring, abandoned buildings), but is much longer, and perhaps because of this is able to have more of a narrative in places.

Specifically there's a lot written about a giant squat Shaun stayed in while in New York City, the people he met while he lived there, the adventures they had, and how they were eventually evicted. As a person who enjoys abandoned buildings, urban exploration, dumpster diving, and adventures, this stuff really appealed to me, and Shaun's accounts of hiding in dark rooms filled with junk while the police walked by, or sleeping in a cleaned out elevator control room successfully managed to paint pictures in my mind.

I read Shaun's zine at a very specific time when it may have had more of an impact on me than even a week ago. I have a full-time job I find to be (while somewhat worthwhile) incredibly boring. My plan was to work until August, visit some friends and family, and then start a new chapter of my life in another city in September. I have recently discovered that this new chapter will not be what I had planned, but will instead be something currently entirely mysterious to me. While some find this liberating, I've spent the last seven years of my life feeling fairly rudderless, and had hoped to have a goal slightly longer than "pay this month's rent". While I can work my boring job if I have something to look forward to, I now wonder why I should even bother with my job, and whether I should, like Shaun, give up on the capitalist society we exist in, and become more outside it than I already am, rejecting societal norms, and existing as a scavenger. This was only cemented by the sudden onset of spring, and days with 20 degree weather (to all the Americans that read this remember that I live in Canada, so this is actually warm).

PostScript: Included with Shaun's zines I received a letter that described what his zines were about. One small piece really stood out to me. It was about how part of this zine was about "a girl (always a girl...)", and really, that's kind of true. For a certain type of person, there is always a girl. One that you find, one that you leave behind, one that you remember.

Excerpt (I don't usually do these, but thought I should for this zine):

I woke up early and set off into the building, flashlight in hand and a feeling of vertigo from the sheer size of the labyrinthian halls, the multiple wings and adjoined church left eerily empty and bathed in dust and stained-glass light, and so much detritus from its past lives as a community center. On the third floor was the main room, lined by open windows whose glass had been removed, now letting light, noise and breeze flow lushly throughout the room. Most other windows in the building were boarded up, allowing in only a small sliver of light through the triangular wedges cut from the bottom of each plywood sheet. This made nearly every room dark, menacingly silent, and possessed of so many odd and curious details of which one could mine a litany of scenarios and theoretical explanations for.

On the lower floors were the large performance theater and basketball court. Chairs were scattered about the floor, a painted set remained standing on the stage, and a tall laddered-platform on wheels sat in the middle of the room. It was hard to know if these all were left in carless [sic] abandonment or if they were the remains of some squatter-party, as Bowery Manor at once appeared both the elegiac remnants of a once-bustling community space forced out by the city of New York and a boundless playground for those who stumbled upon the shell, determined to breathe life back into it. Unfortunately, the building being closed off meant that it was illegal to be anywhere on the property, and anyone coming or going or inside Bowery Manor had to be ware of any police of HPD presence around the building. Thus, besides the metal door installed by the kids and secured with chains and padlocks, the first floor also had a large metal beam wedged between the stairs and the rollgate, the only accessible entrance to anyone who did not want to squeeze through the sledgehammered hole beneath the tarp or climb through a second story window.

Debris lined the floor nearly everywhere you looked - phone books, paper, clothes, boxes full of completely useless objects, nearly any imaginable functionless item could probably be found somewhere on the floors or shelves or in the drawers or in any of the other nooks and crevices in the building. In some rooms, you were not stepping on any floor at all but on the slippery and unstable mountains of old magazines, computer equipment, kitchen tools, CD cases. The swimming pool in the basement was filled to an even six inches below the brim, not with water but with junk.

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