Jaws was the big movie in the cinemas the summer we moved next to the Thompsons, who had a swimming pool, a real one, in-ground, kidney shaped, pellucid chlorine blue, with a crazy-paving all around, not one of those Clark Rubber above-ground jobs, surrounded by insta-decking which were just as good, but fooled nobody (Trigger Warning: bourgeois content throughout).
The Thompsons’ house was Spanish Mission style, a vast stucco and terra-cotta hooptile shell out of the 30s, which gave their backyard an even more raffish appearance, a touch of LA, though I’m getting that only in retrospect. For ten year old kids of course, who knows or gives a damn what the architectural style was, or what it evoked (I did, sadly. My folks had a shelf of big black and white picture biogs of Hollywood stars, part of the part forgotten twenties revival of the seventies, art-nouveau, bell-bottom slacks and rrrragtime). What is ever going to feel as good as diving in a pool with a deep end, on a hot day—36 degrees was baking hot in the 70s, ludicrous heat—in the middle of a hot summer, the wash of cooling, cleansing, transparent cerulean over you, the water’s generosity and totality, the never-mastered surprise of disappearing wholly below the surface, and all of it within the ten year old’s time-sense, an afternoon like an eternity, time a wholly different to thing to what it would become, that pinched margin on everything, instead something that flowed, pooled, eddied around events, sprang from them, the world disclosing itself daily, caught in the act of happening to you, bracing, refreshing aliving as cold chloriney water.
When you’re ten the evening of that day is literally, like, five years away. From December to the end of January you lived in the pool, a tribe of eight or so kids of different families, supervised by adults—supervised by housewives—coming and going and paying no attention from behind a glass screen at the near-drownings occurring hourly, concentrating on their preferred interests of smoking (Alpine, Silk Cut, Camel, every pack a little mystery scenario, mountains and ancient Arabian scenes) and gin-and-ts, the first ching and ffffffffffffn-n-n-n-n of ice and Schweppes into glass creeping ever earlier into the afternoon. The white wine thing hadn’t hit yet, the two variants of such, paintstripper Riesling and diabetic Moselle, still evening drinks. One studied the G&T klatsch with curiosity, through the chloriney drops hanging from one’s eye, convex-making the world, like a Mannerist portrait, long-necked Madonnas throwing down the Gordons, and card after card in hands of games of the now-unplayed games of that era, Solo, Five Hundred, Hearts. Why would you do any of that, I thought? Why would you be anywhere other than in an electric-plastic, blue swimming pool? Why would you play anything other than Marco Polo?
Marco Polo was—who knows which of what has to be explained in a piece like this?—a swimming pool blind-man’s-bluff, which had a tame version, where you just got tagged, and a tougher version, where the closed-eyed seeker of the pool’s other inhabitant, replying ‘Polo’, to her or his inquiring call of ‘Marco’, had to grab and hold anyone they found, which involved getting buckets of pungent chlorine-tang liquid down your mouth, which was a preparation for later pleasures of adult life for at least some of the participants I guess. The game was everywhere and seemed like it always had been, but the parents knew nothing of it, and found it disturbing, and even the lunchtime gin-and-cards club had to break it up occasionally. To have let someone else’s kid drown in a swimming pool would have been a serious thing. Not the curtain-tearing catastrophe it would be now, but far from nothing. Just not, y’know, well things happen. Everyone, adults and children, expected they might well die in a car smash eventually anyway, the explosion of sear metal and smashed glass one saw by the side of the ride all the time, no flowers, or white bikes, or teddybears, the idea of that would not have begun to make sense. So life had a little more edge, and getting your skull pounded on tiled concrete as an older kid yelled ‘Marco Polo! Marco Polo!’ was no big deal.
Had a movie about a great white shark that manages to eat Robert Shaw whole—’you’re going to need a bigger boat!’— done something to give that a tougher edge than it might otherwise have had? The movie was everywhere, it was a phenomenon, you weren’t meant to be allowed to see it as a ten-year-old—was it M-rated, or that delicious 70s rating ‘NRC’, Not Recommended For Children?—but you got to anyway, usually often as not smuggled in by parents under blankets to see it at one of the eight or so drive-ins still operating. Jaws was, for Australia, the first big summer movie, opening on hundreds of screens, and the first to take the stories that kids liked right into the centre of the mainstream movie experience, to be the movie everyone was talking about. There were plenty of movies for kids to see before that, of the The Love Bug type, and they were everywhere, but no-one mistook them for films for adults, which were in the final stage of the American New Wave, Taxi Driver and Klute and the like. Many have seen that passage, from a sequence of movies among cinema’s finest, playing as regular fare, to the rapid succession of Star Wars and Spielberg as a tragic fall. But it may well have been inevitable, the machinery of the studio system captured for a time by a young arty push, to whose movies many of the Friday night crowd trudged along, going ‘what is this shit?’.
In any case, and not ruling out a certain synthesising by memory, Jaws marked a new stage in American culture’s colonisation of everyday life, a new intensity. The products of its popular culture were becoming more insistent on being part of a conversation. The rise of the ‘blockbuster’ movie (the term came from World War Two mass urban air bombing) which Jaws was the first of, marked, so far as one can tell, the beginning of the end of the time when mass entertainment products were part of the coming and going of life, and became the means by which discussion of it was mediated.
Jaws sparked a fascination in the monstrous and uncanny which would proceed by mutations, to the Alien series, and an obsession with the great white shark, never much discussed prior to that, but now prompting a fascination with its relentless, ravenous, unageing character which would lead, in the other direction, to the US cable institution of ‘shark week’, seven days of shark programming. Jaws kicked off a fad, and fads were what the 70s were all about, a period that served as a prelude to the meme age. Great white sharks, the Bermuda Triangle, primal screaming, pet rocks, jogging, disco, nun-chukas, rolfing, biorythms… the pace of social and cultural life was slower and more focused by singular mass media, and so fads moved through the popular present at a statelier pace, held together longer, and had no capacity to do what memes do now, cross-fertilise and mutate from the get-go, the aspect of contemporary culture those of us who developed before the web era find most resistant to complete comprehension or accustoment.
Things stuck around in the fad era, they were discussed, batted back and forth, undertaken until they started to become a little tedious, and by then the next one was steadily moving into place. Jaws was, as far as I recall, replaced at the centre of mass culture roundelay, by Meatloaf and Bat Out Of Hell, the Jim Steinman-Todd Rudgren multilatered masterpiece of bubblegum Wagner, which not only managed to draw together all the capacities of, very white, rock and pop to that date, but to put them altogether in an ironic and self-mocking fashion which did not undermine the literalness for those who wanted it. It is impossible, listening to it now, to believe that it was ever meant for anyone but kids, but it washed over the whole of the mass cultural scene hitting young and teenaged and 20-somethings alike, something about the counter-intuitive nature of a hugely obese pop star, performing in a frilled dinner suit shirt, requiring regular offstage hits with an oxygen tank to get through the full set.
This was the time when tennis became more than a sport and, with Connors, King, McEnroe and Borg, some sort of global obsession. It was a world where bombings by various terrorist groups of every political shade, went off in their hundreds, as a regular occurrence, but a world which, caught in that last moment, in a sort of Polaroid of history, had not yet had the Sex Pistols, AIDS, acid rain and nuclear winter. If I’m thinking now of the way it had started to spread then like the lapping electric blue of waves hitting the side of a swimming pool, it’s because the America that brought it, having first descended into the squalor of a failed Covid response, is now on fire, with a solving rage at decades of the failure of hope become years of deliberate sabotage of possibility. We seem to be at a moment at which it is all finally, absolutely over in that way.
‘Hello is that Gauiiiiiy?’ The soft American voice on the other end of the line extended my name while somehow keeping it to one syllable. I was in an airport hotel in LA, waiting for a flight out as the virus hit. The voice sounded like the California I had hoped to get another taste of, sunny, insouciant and historyless.
‘Yes it is, is that Roy?’
‘Sure is. I guess we’re not going to be able to meet.’
‘I guess we’re not.’
‘We can still talk about it though. I’m happy to talk.’
‘It’s like the game itself, swimming blind.’
‘Huh yeh, Marco Polo.’
Several weeks before hitting the US for what I thought would be coverage of the primaries, I had circulated an ad/request on twitter and through some other lists, asking anyone, particularly in California, if they had played the swimming pool game ‘Marco Polo’ in the 1970s or even better the 1960s, and would they get in touch with this social history researcher if so. This was the third time I’d done this coming through the States; the first, poorly circulated request had yielded no replies, and the second only a few memories from the mid-70s and later. I must have got the wording better in the last go-round—or the spread of social media was now so comprehensive that everyone was got who might know something. Emails and texts from late boomers and early gen-Xers in their golden age, attested to playing it back to 1973, but Roy, who was a now-retired academic in organisational psychology of fairly minor standing, sounded more promising
‘I’m pretty sure I was playing Marco Polo in 1968, in the pool in Irvine, because I was a junior at high school, and we got pool privileges,’ his email had said
‘I still swim most days’ Roy said on the phone, days after I’d excitedly asked him to contact me at his convenience, as soon as possible please please. I had so wanted to meet. I imagined him as tall and golden, a witness to the pop culture history of five decades at its origin point, breasting the surf every morning before egg-white omelette and grapefruit. He’d clocked my interest, less bewildered than others, his profession I guess. I hadn’t told him, or anyone, why the trace had become such an obsession.
‘Yeah or it could have been ’69, second half of junior year. Before the holiday, after. That is lost in the mists.’
‘And so you played it with these guys…’
‘Well we were the swim team, so we were in the pool a lot.’
‘Was it a generally known game, did you all know it?’
‘I didn’t know it; someone knew it, I can’t remember who.’
‘Did you play it elsewhere, with other people?’
‘Now…’ my voice gained a slight tremolo ‘…did they know it, or did you teach them?’
‘Well I knew it better, but I think, it was around, I’m really not sure. I definitely taught it to my brothers. But—I’m sorry Gaiiiiiiy, I’m not being much help.’
‘No this is brilliant,’ I said, thinking you dumb boomer you took too many drugs, we’re so close!
We talked a bit more. He hadn’t kept up with high school buds, he recalled a couple of names. They were dead common ones. It would be weeks work pursuing this line, and even if it were now possible, I wondered if it would not be a plunge too great into the deep end. Still, this was the earliest record so far, and the game had been introduced to Roy, it was not certainly part of a general condition for him. Was he close to the third or fourth ripple of the game? Was it that recent, on the edge of the 1970s? The Dictionary of American Regional English lists its first appearance as such in the 1965-1970 survey bracket, but only just: only nine of several hundred survey respondents mention it, when asked to list ‘games played in the water’.
Swimming pool versions of blind-man’s-bluff would presumably have been invented many times by many people, many kids, as swimming pool play became a more common feature of Western childhoods from the 1950s onwards. Conversly, it seems to me, the Marco Polo version must have had a single progenitor. Someone somewhere once must have been playing bluff and devised the ‘Marco Polo’ call and return. Something that specific and arbitrary cannot have multiply occurred. Somewhere, if they were still alive, someone who had been a kid in California in the 60s, had said, ‘hey why don’t we…’ and it spread from there.
Why ‘Marco Polo’, of all things for a swimming pool game? The Wikipedia entry gets it right by getting it wrong, saying (arbitrarily) that there is no known link to ‘water polo’. Well of course there bloody is, but signifier, not signified. Water polo had become a popular sport, especially a school sport, in the 1960s. Had someone said to some bunch of kids in a pool once, ‘what are you playing water polo?’, and someone had said ‘no, marco polo’, and there it was. The ‘Marco?’ ‘Polo!’ call and return would have been reverse-engineered out of that, is my guess. Ok, but so where did the very presence of the Marco Polo signifier come from? Why was it at hand? Some have suggested that it is a crude representation of the game; like the players, Marco Polo is famous for seeking something. Well he is, but he did it OVER LAND NOT BY WATER, and that’s what he’s most famous for. Once again that puts too much emphasis on intent, too little on the simple metaphorical slide of words. Marco Polo himself had a revival of sorts in the early 1960s, with an Italian-US film released in 1962, and a comic book tie-in. He had become a motif figure: of global trade, of Italy and travel, of Venice as a mass tourist destination, for the growing US package market. One suspects enough digging would find that Italian tourism bodies, or the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce had a hand in reviving interest in this figure. After the Congressional investigations of organised crime in the 1950s, which made the Mafia visible to the American population for the first time, perhaps there had been a conscious remodeling of the Italian image. Indeed ‘Marco Polo’ was a popular name for motels, inns and Italian restaurants at the time (there remains a motel in North Melbourne of that name, a surviving independent in an era of chains).
Furthermore, history teaching in high schools had started to shift to a geographical model, in which there was a focus on the development of a linked world in the Middle Ages (remember all that stuff about the spice trade?). The Annales school from which this was drawn had revived Polo’s visibility as a precursor, of the (usually murderous) voyagers who gave a unified world its form.
So Marco Polo was around, in the culture and in kids’ heads, in a way he wouldn’t have been at an earlier time, and without all these conjunctions, that one kid would never have come up with the idea. My certainty of Californian-origin took a battering when I found a Florida holiday park called the Marco Polo, first announced in 1967. Wouldn’t kids in the pool there have-…but it only opened in 1970, by which time the game had been named. It would appear to be a product of the Marco Polo revival, parallel to the naming of the game itself.
My guess is that the game spread meme-wise under that name, because the ‘Marco Polo’ call and return, once back-made from the pun name, gave the game an efficiency it would not otherwise have possessed, and thus streamlined, it rapidly became general.
So dammit, was it possible that Roy was part of the third or fourth or even second circle of the game? That it had been passed on to him by its progenitor? That made it more recent than I thought, but more recently I had been coming around to that idea. In recent decades, the notion of single progenitors of things that had once been presumed to have collective and multiple origins has become more popular. One example is blues music; specifically the ‘woke up this morning’ 12-bar blues, which has the appearance of being a traditional music form of great age. Now, as I understand it, the suggestion is that the 12-bar blues emerged as a single composition, somewhere around the northern part of Mississippi state, around 1905, a conclusion tentative, but come to, using the same methods of spread-mapping applied in public epidemiology. The blues thus emerged after more formally sophisticated forms such as ragtime, and early jazz, acquiring an image of authorless emergence from its formal simplicity. One guitar player in one river town once, hit on the 12-bar and every other player who heard it was so taken with its deeply satisfying resolution that they took it up immediately. Single origin is everywhere. The Caesar salad. The ubiquitous ‘Amen’ drum break. Wheels on suitcases, invented once in the 70s (four-wheel version), and then, as the now-standard ‘rollaway’, two-wheel version. One could continue. Our lives are textured and shaped by entitities which have acquired a general character, but came to someone once in an afternoon.
The possibility, then the certainty, that Marco Polo was of this type had struck me after seeing a documentary on another Californian emergence (this time documentedly so), skateboarding, in Skateboarding’s First Wave. Having started in the 1950s as an off-season pursuit by surfers, who nailed old clay roller-skate wheelsets to boards, skateboarding was taken up by kids in the Los Angeles suburb of Pacific Palisades, which was right at the edge of LA’s sprawl, abutting the Santa Monica mountains—and thus had smooth asphelt paths coming off the hills, which allowed Palisades kids to develop a new style of the sport, their long downhill rides, which allowed for a whole series of moves – nose-coning, the headstand etc—were made posible because the Palisades group had had their wooden skateboards coated with a slip-resistant surface by one of the boarders’ Dads, who made swimming pool deck surfacing; much of it recorded on bright-coloured Kodachrome 16mm footage by one 14-year-old participant. The documentary centred on the reunion of the Palisades kids—whose style had quickly taken over skateboarding altogether—now in their 60s, prosperous boomers.
The only figure missing, long fallen away, being one Chris Picciolo, on whom the film’s camera had lingered. The 16mm footage showed the Palisades kids getting better, but having fun at it, a lot of larking and flirting (the crew had a lot of teenage girls in it, who were fully equal competitors and innovatos; skateboarding’s Eden-time, before the fall into its neoliberal thunderdome version, which advantaged male musculature. Perhaps one could call this ludic cultural phylogeny, in which games repeat, in miniature, the history of human social development). But Picciolo was focused, concentrated on the board, and it was clear that he was developing a skill that the others respected, and began to imitate. ‘Chris really taught us all.’ It was clear that the moves that would become, simply, skateboarding had originated from this one person who had honed the technique of keeping control of the board on the Palisades long black trails.
That felt odd because they had been the moves I had (badly) executed, when skateboarding had had its second wave in the mid 70s. Tangled up with Jaws and Meatloaf and everything else, the sport had exploded afresh after a seven-years hiatus, when Frank Nasworthy invented the polyurethane wheel, which gave a much smoother ride. Suddenly it was everywhere, every flat space filled with skateboarders, the western world over, and all of them making moves whose distinct form had been written down in air by Chris Piciolo fifteen years earlier and recorded on 16mm film.
It was this period, the five years of the mid-seventies, when the relationship between Australian everyday life and American mass culture was transformed so that the latter crawled into the heart of the former, and took it to become a rapid replicator, as a virus will a host cell. Older hands will say that this had already occurred, and it had, but only in a partial and still-barriered way. Thus that staple Aussie go-to, the ‘milk bar’ was an American invention, the first one hitting Sydney in the ’30s. But it was as the old style ‘drugstore’ with a zinc counter and milkshakes, floats and candy. By the 50s the zinc counters had gone, the glass cabinets of mixed lollies had come in, and the Australian milk bar, that unique folk art ensemble of sweets, chips, drinks, the steamed dim sim in the cooker, magazines and cards, and whatever combo of tins, boxed chocolates and whatever the proprietor wanted to feature, came to prominence. The hamburger had arrived; and we put egg, beetroot and pineapple in it, and called it ‘the lot’. TV shows like Homicide had aped the US crime model, but under pressure of a furious rate of production they had mutated into a sort of hybrid form (often it must be said through sheer lack of script-editing) in which crime dramas became picaresque tales of one bloody thing after another, with more than a touch of Irish blarney and The Sentimental Bloke about them. The structure of global economics, franchising and the small scale of our economy created a form of mediation within which a final creative space remained open. The lack of travel the other way reinforced that. The Bee Gees were just about the only Australian act to have made it big in US music, before Olivia Newton John’s star turn in Grease set a few things rolling.
Aussie Hollywood stars were character actors like Frank Thring and Michael Pate, an Irish-descended Australian whose studio speciality was playing native Americans in westerns; the idea that someone would transition from an Australian soap opera to Hollywood would have struck one as a category error. Of course much of mid-high culture remained resolutely British. The ABC took whatever sitcoms and drama series BBC or ITV would dish up, and was denied US series by the US networks’ bloc deals with Australian commercial networks (but would have taken little of them anyway). The British publishers controlled Australian publishing territories, so we got what they chose for us. Since that excluded a huge range of American titles, it was easy to conclude there was no American high culture. America was popular culture, here but not wholly so, tantalising and supplementary and a splash of colour.
The blockbuster opening of Jaws was a sign that had already begun to shift. Fastfood was another. Kentucky Fried Chicken had arrived in 1968, but that was not so categorically different from the ubiquitous ‘chook’ that for decades had been the sole alternative to lamb. It was the arrival of McDonalds in 1971 that made it all something else. I recall going to their fourth or fifth Australian store, and second in Melbourne, in Elsternwick, one of those godawful plastic huts of theirs plonked down amid Victorian terraces, like a spaceship had landed. The first bite of a cheeseburger was this explosion of deliquescence in your mouth, your taste buds, your brain, that never-yet-known combo of sugar, soft bun, meat and tangy, umami-ish (no-one knew of umami yet, which gave the flavour a sting of transcendent mystery) racing to the cerebral cortex, lighting the world up like a pinball machine. Australia receded to the background, a land of flavours that knew their place, you had your charcoal and bbq sauce burger, a bag of Colvan’s cardboardy crisps and a Black Label Tarax lemonade which was more tart than Number 96’s Abigail. Then you got your sugar hit with a cherry ripe, or a Peter’s two-in-one (we had our own ice creams!), maybe a cassata, or well-named Everest Forbidden Apple, dessert’s acme, a caramel hard-shell ice-cream in the fruit’s shape, containing soft custardy ice, and a core of rum-soaked cake, topped with a chocolate stalk, and whose inventor should have won the Nobel Prize. In a moment, in a bite, a McDonalds cheeseburger wiped that all away, and terribly, you beaut was suborned.
There was more. Vast American style pizza parlours were competing against the quieter Italian places. The CIA introduced my mother to pizza at one, Poppa’s, in Gardenvale. Anyway, moving on—what? Oh, OK.
Born in England, come to Australia in the 50s, my mother, by her telling, does not appear to have known what pizza was, until an American couple the Fishers, parents of a friend, took the whole grade three athletics team to this vast cavern where there were clowns, helium balloons and pizzas the size of tractor wheels served on vast wooden pallets. ‘Oh Myra you haven’t had pizza?’ said Jan Fisher, holding out a triangle of margherita to her, its vast tongue hanging down like HR Pufnstuf on a bender. Steve Fisher, Jan’s husband, beamed across the table. He worked for Ford Motors, ostensibly. The Fishers were suss from the start. Lean but muscular in a way that nobody here was then, they went for miles on the beach jogging—nobody even knew it was called that—in matching sort of space fleet style tracksuits. They practiced judo on each other in the garden when I went round to play there. They had set up a home gym in the old wooden garage of their rented house, at a time when there were two gyms in the whole of Melbourne. I found Jan smoking a cigarette once, clearly a breach of training. ‘Shhhh’ she said, a twinkle in her eye ‘or I’m going to have to kill you.’ First time I’d heard that phrase (then in it’s longer 70s version) and without knowledge of its ironic register, and Jan’s slight edge of something in her tone, I almost shat my boardies.
Ford Motors, come on. They were Company. My Dad said that to me at lunch once, 15 years after, when I was at my most would-be street-fighting reddest. ‘You’re the radical, and you haven’t worked out they were Company?! He spent beach holidays reading, like every man spent beach holidays reading, brick-sized Robert Ludlam psyops spy thrillers, books which in that period, appeared to be not so much sold, as simply issued, like car rego stickers. (For the record I do not believe that introducing my mother to pizza was part of the CIA’s official soft-power programme in 70s Australia. After all, they had a union movement to run by proxy.)
They had a pool too. But we didn’t play ‘Marco Polo’ in it, and that’s ’73, so, interesting. Seven-elevens? They arrived then, three or four in Melbourne, the sleek uniformity of their interiors showing up the ramshackle old milkbars often as not mildewy pits of expired Cadbury’s Snack bars (nee MacRobertson’s Snack bars—we had our own chocolate!), now rendered Aladdinesque in memory, by the dull uniformity of convenience stores. On TV, the nightly news began playing quirky news on tapes flown in from the US, dogs on skateboards that could whistle Dixie and so on, all in garish wholly saturated colours blaring out, the whites yellows, the browns reds, the presenter’s face an enormous pancake, because the tapes were in the US NTSC format, and Australian TV used PAL-SECAM, and there was no capacity—this is like writing about the Middle Ages—to transfer the material from one to the other. The newsreader just threw to two minutes that looked like polaroids melted in the sun. As the 70s rushed to conclusion America got closer, Grease, Leif Garrett, the calico desert-witch stylings of Stevie Nicks, Star Wars, the Don Lane Show (through a glass, darkly), Pong, Donkey Kong, yo-yos (two or three times), biorhythms, Space Invaders, Pacman, jogging, dayglo, Starsky and Hutch, The Love Boat, BJ and the Bear (don’t ask), multiplexes, Lascaux-caves era primitive music videos: ‘Now, here’s the Captain and Tennille’, and then in about 1983, through the magic of satellite, Channel 7 began taking at 1am, the next, ie previous, day’s live feed of NBC’s morning Today programme, Bryant Gumbel, Jane Pauley and the vast, spherical Willard the Weatherman yakking on for three hours about that bagel they just ate, and where is China and why are shoes larger than socks and, and, we realised, finally, my God these people are morons, absolute morons, what is this driveling, purposeless afflatus of micro-talk that put homegrown midday mainstay Roy Hampson to shame, and we realised with horror, sorrow, and resignation, that along with all the rock operas and sugar, it would soon be with us, it would soon be us, and there it was and here it is.
Like the virus, like the mimesis of one skateboarder once an ocean away becoming all skateboarders everywhere, his gestures loosed from the sport’s rainbow of gravity, a vibration in air, the memory of water, and a swimming game that made its way across, in what now appears to have been a few months travel, America was wholly here, before we knew it, before we had known it. Or, for that matter, ourselves. That mimesis we were driven to was born of the mastery of the other, and I suspect that these memories are flooding back, because with the force of a hundred hurricane Katrinas, COVID-19 is ending that mastery once and for all as is made clear the pitiful chaos of the United States of America, its inability to regroup, like the liquified agent-of-the-future, incapable of regrouping, at the conclusion of Terminator Two, the film that perhaps marks the popular/artistic completion of the cycle begun with Jaws, technology not nature now the human nemesis—now a document of prescient one-for-one allegory of our era.
Mimesis is imposed organisation, and when the master comes apart, there is a moment when recognition might return to self, but not before some wild stuff happens first.
She or he is still out there. I know they are. Three, two, maybe just one circle beyond Roy (‘it was really nice to talk to you about this Gaaaiiiy’), Marco Polo’s play-agent zero. Somewhere in what, Carmel, or San Luis Opisbo, or maybe plain old LA, before this this this, this now, all began, some golden-skinned sunkissed 70-something gal or guy, had just taken a seat at the Starbucks or Caribou Coffee, with their venti decaf almond milk latte and their small cinnamon swirl, in neat white long shorts, and comfortable trainers from Foot Locker, a tasteful pressed Hawaiian shirt and reading USA Today on their Iphone, and looking out over the sky and wondering if it’s warm enough to go in off Venice Beach, and not thinking of the hot day a half century ago, before email, international dialing, touch screens MRIs, SSRIs, PTSD, Xerox, Starbucks as anything other than a whickery coffeeshop in a Seattle market, Ayatollahs, death-row-organ-donors, private space exploration, vanished newsstands, fake news, Facebook, all before not Trump, but Reagan!, and waiting for the trillionaires, they made a joke in the middle of a water game that went around the world, and vibrates here still. Or, suddenly vanishing from the coffee shop, they have already floated away years ago, as scattered ash on the Pacific currents. The shift of one signifier mutates the universe. The virus, the time before the virus, the ocean’s long withdrawing roar, and ‘Marco? Polo!’. For decades, that’s what’s it been all ’bout, or seemed to be. Now as the real country of our fantasies burns down to the waterline, though it may be a little cute, it looks like we’re going to need a bigger ’bout.