At Home in the Prison of Song

N.B. not two Tokyo parakeets

This is a news story, but of the kind the world lets fall every now and then, that read like parables of indeterminable meaning. Here’s the story.

A bird — a parakeet — is found perching on the shoulder of a man in Tokyo. The man is a hotel guest. The bird is not. Or the bird perhaps is — ? The man doesn’t know. He pets the bird. It chirrups. Unsure what to do next, the man walks — bird on shoulder — to reception. Within a hotel, reception is like the government. They set the rules. They know how behaviour is supposed to happen. Within the context of a hotel. The bird is taken to reception, where Continue reading

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Horizon Editions

Friends of KMZ Pia Copper-Ind and Christopher Ind have launched a new venture, Horizon Editions, which will publish quality art and photography books about the Middle East and Asia. To mark the upcoming release of their first title, Mao, Christopher reflects on the genesis of the company and the fraught but fecund world of modern publishing …

Strangely, as many things, Horizons grew out of necessity and hardship. I left my job in London where I had worked for many years as a Middle East publisher and I wanted to move to Paris with my fiancé Pia. I was offered a strange and inconclusive job proposal in Dubai for which I never received any money. As a result, we had shifted our entire lives to Dubai. But, out of necessity grows opportunity. My now wife and I, Pia, decided to found our own publishing house as we had been spending our own moneys running after sponsors in the Gulf region to finance books on the palaces of Syria, the architecture of Sanaa, Yemen, the new architecture of Qatar, the Haj pilgrimage, etc… The Orient was my domain of predilection and of expertise as I had travelled widely through Iran, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi, etc. where I had the good fortune to meet Pia in Tehran at a cocktail party. Continue reading

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In 1972, psychologist Walter Mischel of Stanford University conducted a study on deferred gratification that has come to be known as the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment. A marshmallow was offered to each child. If the child could resist eating the marshmallow, he was promised two instead of one.

Staring at the absurd variety of different types of muesli on offer in Sainsburies I feel like the child staring at the marshmallow. What is this feeling that is subtly so compelling and yet simultaneously stultifying? Uma had to go home tired after having got stuck in a brain loop looking at the bewildering range of detergents on offer.

For all our concern for the environment the very fact that we are shopping in Sainsburies is surely proof that in the final analysis we don’t give a toss. All these straight carrots mean agribusiness, denigration of traditional farming and of soil and tonnes of wonky waste to me. So much plastic packaging destined for the guts of dying Albatross chicks on remote islands in the pacific. No doubt there are very clever people paid handsomely to convince that this is not the case should one publicly allege such things. But though my thinking regarding super-markets has generally been informed by paranoiac suspicion for some years it is specifically the environment of the aisle and the psychological trial of the B.O.G.O.F. offer that interests me now.

Buy one. Get one. Free.

Is the inverse of deferred gratification just this: double gratification, right now? We know it is a trick. We don’t want or need two. We just came in for one. But we are caught. One or two? The expense of one is perfectly balanced by the freeness of the other as if by magic a bar of gold is balanced in the scales by a feather. We stop and stare. There is a particular vacancy redolent of airports, a halfway place which is nowhere, between the bought one and the free one.

The Stanford Marshmallow experiment showed that the time it took for a child to give in to temptation was proportional to the age of the child. In other words our ability to defer gratification is acquired. I think this is why a visit to Sainsburies makes me so weary. The grinning Jamie Oliver public image conceals this lie. There is no balance in the B.O.G.O.F. To buy just one is now pointless. It’s two or none at all. Choose. Gratify yourself twice now and slip back into that beautiful pre-marsmallow state devoid of responsibility or bog off.

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Alice the Nepali Flying Dog

Copyright Kathrine Piper

Those who’ve followed the literary wanderings of Sparkle Hayter know she’s had some peculiar adventures in her life. Just consider a short list of the locales where she’s lived and written: Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion; the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan; a seven-storey art squat near the Paris opera house; a Bollywood apartment in Mumbai.

Still, even with this exotic track record, Sparkle’s latest exploits almost defy belief. During a writing sejour in Delhi, India to complete the latest installment of the Robin Hudson mystery series, she took a side trip to Nepal to get her visa renewed. While in Kathmandu, she happened across a bedraggled, half-starved puppy with to-die-for eyes. And, you guessed it: Sparkle cracked, adopting the dog and naming her Alice. She’s now spent the better part of six months raising money and negotiating the convoluted Nepali, Indian, and Canadian bureaucracy in an attempt to get Alice to a safe home. Continue reading

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Conversations between jumbled farmers and various Cockney types

Conversation between an artichoke farmer and a Cockney serial killer:
— Artichoke?
— Nah! I find it ’ard t’ let the liyul blighers breave.

Conversation between a Japanese soy bean farmer and a jilted Cockney bruiser:
— Edamame?
— I wiwl. And I’ll ’ead ’er fakkin Daddy too. And ’er, the silly cow.

Conversation between an aloe vera farmer and a Cockney scrubber.
– Aloe vera?
— ’allo Duckie, I’d love a vera. Ta very much. Fancy a shag?*

* Cockney rhyming slang: vera = Vera Lynn = gin
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What Buster Burk Found

Name of Species: Latin: Lucanus cervus; French: Lucane cerf-volant; English: Elephant Stag Beetle

Location Found: On a wall of an Auchan mega supermarket in Avallon. Out of the hundreds of articles and things that I have brought away from that store, this beetle is by far the best.

Incidence: The Elephant Stag Beetle is becoming more and more rare throughout Europe and is, from what I understand of the bureaucratic labeling, a protected species. It is the largest beetle in Europe and is listed by some sources as the largest ‘terrestrial insect’ in Europe.

Release Into Wild: In the Morvan forest, Burgundy, across the street from our house. Perched on my hand, he smelled the strong odors of bark, leaf, and soil, opened his wings, and flew off to the amazement, delight and awe of my children and me.

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Dante’s Virgil

written by Crow Jane

So Virgil and Justin Bieber walk into a bar. Virgil says Give us a couple of lagers. Bartender gives ’em some, there’s a monkey sitting at the end of the bar. Virgil says What’s that damn monkey doing at the end of the bar? Barkeep says Don’t say anything bad about that monkey. He’s my friend. Virge says Oh.

Then the bartender says Wanna see something cool? Virgil looks at Justin Bieber, they say Yes. Bartender walks down to the end of the bar, punches the monkey in the face, monkey jumps off his barstool and gives the barkeeper a blowjob.

Bartender comes back, says to Justin Bieber, You wanna try it? Bieber says Sure! Just don’t hit me so hard.

Crow Jane is an anonymous international all-girl poetry collective. We write and translate all our work together, but keep liaisons with The Secret Boat and Truck Club in New Orleans. Their watchword is “We are not just a boat and truck club, we are a SECRET boat and truck club!” Crow Jane has been published in Aufgabe, Boog City and Shampoo Poetry in the U.S. Adopting the sobriquet Societé Anonyme, proxies appeared for us live on stage at the Bridport Poetry Festival in Dorset, England.
For further Kilometer Zero Running Eye Blog bar jokes, click here.
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Bacteria—Genome—Baby Boy

The image (see image right) shows a colony of Bacillus subtilis. Each of the little grains is one bacterium, with the striae of colour denoting the various lineages present, which express different fluorescent proteins.

Initially the scientists had them all jumbled up in the middle of the petri dish, but as they grew and replicated, the bacteria organised themselves into the pattern you see. The formation is both reproducible and describable mathematically. More provocative however is that Continue reading

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Jethro Massey’s Dust Bowl III

Those lurking about Paris in the early aughts might remember an aspiring young filmmaker by the name of Jethro Massey. He was a pale, bespectacled sort who spoke an abundance of languages and buzzed with an extravaganza of ideas. Ring a bell?

Well, catching up with Jethro today, it seems we can safely scratch the word ‘aspiring’; judging by all available evidence, the fellow has fully and magnificently aspired. (Is that even a word?)

Over the past decade, his short films and music videos have been of an ever-more mesmerizing quality. (Warning: Don’t visit the ‘Showreel’ section of his website unless you’re ready to get swept into an hour or so of compulsive video watching.) At the same time, his work has been receiving ever more acclaim. How about having admirers such as David Lynch and Duran Duran?

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Ultrashort Short For Television: Shopping with Friction

Saturday afternoon at Borough Market, London. The marketplace is swarming with young good-looking people clutching oval loaves of stoneground bread, slabs of raw chocolate, violet cauliflower heads etc.. They are all rubbing up against each other as they press through the crowd. The camera is following a YOUNG MAN with dark curly hair in red jeans and a baseball t-shirt that reads “REVOLUTION TOMORROW / PARTY TODAY”. Approaching in the opposite direction are two HOT GIRLS with sunglasses on their heads. They have thin noses, glossy lips, and are both chewing gum. As they come toward the YOUNG MAN their conversation rises up out of the babble.

HOT GIRL 1: So basically he broke into my flat —

HOT GIRL 2: Oh my god!

HOT GIRL 1: While I was in the shower —


HOT GIRL 1: And then basically

The YOUNG MAN turns his head and makes eye contact with HOT GIRL 1. She pauses in her sentence, and the two gaze at each other as the crowd pushes them forward in opposite directions. Their bodies are crushed together, then slide past one another. HOT GIRL 1 closes her eyes and bites down on her gum while keeping her lips parted (close up slow mo on her mouth). The crowd presses them on in opposite directions, and they are carried apart.

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