Thursday, July 29, 2010


Remember zines?
That's what blogs were called before blogs existed. Back in those dark ages before the internet, people with something to say would paste up sheets at home, take them to kinko's to be copied, then fold, staple, and sell them at indy record stores, bookstores, and hipster thrift shops all over the country. Most of the zines were music oriented, but there were a few that travelled off the beaten path. One particularly good zine was Murder Can Be Fun, which introduced me to some greusome serial killers, Mormon blood atonement, and the great Boston Molasses flood of 1919.
My hands down favorite zine though was Dishwasher. Pete "Dishwasherpete" Jordan wrote about his experiences working as a dishwasher all over the place. He reviewed books and movies that included dishwashers, he pondered line cooks' devotion to classic rock, and described the leftover foods he salvaged out of bus tubs. Through it all, he maintained the honesty and value of washing dishes in a society drunk with ambition and materialism. Occassionally Dishwasherpete was drunk too, but usually it was from shift beers and whatever half finished drinks the waitstaff would smuggle to him.
One of the greatest themes in the zine was Pete's refusal to be promoted to cook. He was a professional dishwasher, and wanted to remain so. Once the kitchen managers and owners figured out that he was a competent, intelligent person, they would invariably try to promote him to cook. They could never understand why anyone would want to stay a dishwasher. At this point, Pete would usually drop his apron and split, heading to the next job wherever that might be.
Eventually, Dishwasherpete set a goal to wash dishes in all 50 states, and that's the basis of the book Dishwasher. He tells his story in a linear narrative, unlike his zine which jumped all over the place. There are stories from a taquieria in Boston, a ski resort in Colorado, and a salmon cannery in Alaska, along with many others. Pete writes with a devilish wit and the eye of a keen observer. The book is a lot of fun to read, especially if you've ever spent any time in the dish pit. Like all good bohemian writers, Pete is now repairing bicycles in Europe, but I'm glad he took the time first to compile the story of his great American quest.

No comments:

Post a Comment