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Winter 2001.

Grainy Orange Newspaper Talk and Other Anecdotes

by Jason Martin

Olfactory hallucinations. Out of body experiences. Such is life. It was weird how individual numbers and letters gave me fancy ideas. I began collecting typewriters.

One could never forget that suggestive vanilla hydrox cookie sensation of the "6" on the electric Smith Corona with a keyboard like a bunch of those individually wrapped caramel squares. Ah, she was beautiful. Then there was the Royal. It was a tank. Its profile in the window, from the floor, was the state map of New Jersey.

Typewriter art - asterisks and periods punctured paper - dashes cut seams - brown cuts neighbors - the cover of "Grainy Orange Newspaper Talk" - a tape I made.

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That title, and the accompanying art, was inspired by an event that occurred in August 1983. While my sister and I were remembering dreams one morning, it occurred to us that we'd had the same dream. We weren't even sure it was a dream. Both of us remembered the air seeming grainy and fluid with a reddish tint. We flew around the room shouting, jumping off furniture, sliding under doors, pretending to be "Brown Cuts Neighbors": our semi-imaginary band including stuffed animals and other entities. Speaking in "Newspaper Talk", which was kind of like speaking in tongues in a dream state, we were able to converse over our game. Don't know why we called it "Newspaper Talk". It was automatic.

Depictions of this, and downtown Schenectady, NY, were the last things I did on the old mechanical Royal typewriter before giving it away.

I used to xerox strips of stock market pages glued to construction paper, inspired by the "OTB Channel" where they run their numbers so you can bet the horses from home. It looked better in the early 80's: brighter clashing colors and bands of blocky numbers whipping by at different speeds, accompanied by muzak. There must have been more live musicians recording muzak back then. Or something. It had a different sound. My xeroxes had a "tv effect" if you taped them to a window screen.

Some friends and I once covered our drummer's car in pancakes after discovering the mix we'd used had bugs living in it. More than we could handle. He drove away with pancakes flapping on the windows and hood.

One day, using that same method, I got rid of some broken typewriters. Seven of them had been in my trunk for months, destined for salvation army. Instead, we left them all over a guy's car. Hiding in the diner, we watched him come out of the store and stand there, stunned. Haw haw! What would you have done? He went into the store and when he came out, his car had seven typewriters on it. In some religions, he'd have to sacrifice his first born child. No kidding!

JASON MARTIN is in semi-imaginary bands.