Statistics and crime map…
Mar 29 Published in Untagged by member178486
Even if the Abbey is Spanish Mission outside, inside it is more Victorian than anything else, spacious and comfy overstuffed furniture indirectly lit by faux Tiffany lamps. Classical music plays in the background. Kelly sees Shevek sitting on a lime green velvet couch.
"Alex, please. We have "done time" together, have we not? We are comrades."
Kelly can't help but grin, "Sure, comrades. Comrade Alex, I'm going to get coffee, do you need anything?"
Shevek gestures at his espresso cup and scone. "No thank you comrade Kelly."
After getting his triple shot cappuccino and flirting with the young new-wavy barista about “the sweet sounds coming off the vinyl” Kelly bounced back to Shevek.
"Alex, about my novel... you know it is pretty tacky..."
"Nonsense, it is magical realism."
"You mean like Gabriel Marquez? Toni Morrison?"
"Well, prof...Alex...you are very kind. I was not really aiming for that... I was just like not sure myself of the line between that weird magic shit and my life... but now it reads like a bad Tom Robbins novel, Even Witches Get the Blues, and that's fucking bad."
"No it is much better than Robbins, and he had his moments. More like that strong novel about the Mexicans and a bean field…nuevo Mexicanos…”
“Oh, that is a good book. The Milagro Beanfield War. That is a nice complement. I love that book.”
“The 70s were very strange. But you seem to also draw on the feeling of the 50s and 60s, that neo-colonial world not far removed from Conrad, Forester, Maugham, Malraux to Fleming to Le Carre to The Green Berets. You are better than Moore, not as good as Herr."
“Sounds better than the book is. The truth is that the only people who loved It Could Be Magic were other anarchist-pagan activists on the West Coast.”
“And who else read it? Let me suggest that perhaps your demographic is actually slightly larger--those who do not believe revolution is a fantasy, and that reality is much more complicated than we can ever know.”
Muttering shy thanks, Kelly shifts the subject. "So, do you call Santa Cruz home now? Didn't you get here last year?"
"Yes, I live here now. But it is hard for me to think of anywhere as home. My homes are in places and times that are long gone, never to return. Apartheid South Africa, Soviet Russia. I am glad they are gone. I miss them I think, but I suspect I really just miss my youth. My young self. My young body. I would not go back. I am happy with the now. I am a happy wanderer into the future. I am an enthusiastic participant in our little struggle for democracy at UC.”
“Do you see democracy?”
Shevek smiles. “UC Democracy. I like that slogan. That is what we need, more democracy.” Shevek sits straighter. His hands cut swiftly through the air, mainly straight up and down but sometimes curves sharp and short. His lips curl with disdain. “These bureaucrats, these parasites. Their main job is justifying their own existence and their continued raises, much greater than any other part of the university. There is one bureaucrat manager for every faculty member now in the UC. And every year they cut the number of staff, the people who do the real work, and replicate their own kind, most promoted significantly past their level of competence.”
“The Peter Principle!”
“Yes, I have heard it called that. Another iron law of bureaucracy. They not only always grow, but also grow more incompetent.”
“What can be done?”
“Autonomous University. We should run it without them. We could do it much more efficiently…more humanely.”
“Is this your idea?”
“Oh no, it has been around for a number of years at UCSC, since the budget cutting started if not before. And in Europe and Latin America it is very common. Rectors and other administrators are elected at many universities. Democracy is hard. It is work. But when you think in terms of complex systems and new thinking such as mob sourcing, when you look at the history of anarchist organizing, the feminist case against bureaucracy, autonomistas and now horizontalism, as the young ones are calling it, then the arguments for self-governance become very strong.”
Kelly nods enthusiastically at each point and is about to interject something when Shevek looks up and his expression softens. He waves at someone coming up the walk. “Maria! Hola! Come say hello!”
A chicana is smiling broadly as she comes up to their table. She is in her thirties, not slender, almost voluptuous but not languid. Brisk. Her lips are bright red and her eyes deep brown. Shevek rises to his feet with European courtesy. “Kelly O’Sullivan, let me introduce Maria Cecilia de la Fronteras.”
Kelly jumps to his feet as well. “I’ve heard of you, you’re the new professor of cultural studies.” They shake hands and disengage slowly.
“Yes, I just moved from Santa Barbara where I got my doctorate.”
“You must have worked with Chela Sandoval? I knew her when she was studying here.” They make eye contact. “Would you like some coffee?”
“Che I know. My mentor. Coffee, no thank you.” She flips her hair. They look at each other appraisingly.
"Are we flirting?” He blurts out.
"No, you have made it meta-flirting," she replies. "Flirting about flirting." He pretends to be confused.
"Don't worry, it is still flirting."
He looks at her dubiously. “Well, I hope we’re flirting. I’m trying to flirt.”
"Good, I couldn't bear the disappointment if it was only me."
"I promise you won't be disappointed. Trust the story."
"I don’t know if I can. I know too much. I'm a writer, not a character..."
A short woman appears next to the table and interjects, "Don't lie. You're a character. Multiples in fact." She has porcelain skin, raven hair, gentle curves.
“Calliope!” He hugged her, grateful for the rescue and just to see her.
"Okay,” he admits. "I am a character...I am characters, multitudes in a Whitman, not a Hardt-Negri sense. But not any of the characters I write. I live a different set."
He makes introductions. Calliope declines coffee as well. Shevek turns to Kelly and says "I was looking at your book this morning...your book Magic. And I stand by my opinion.. You know, its really good. You should get it published...try again.
Maria perks up, "what's this Magic? A book?""
Kelly demurs, "Uh I wrote it in the 80s... bad magical realism..."
"Do not listen to the author. We know they are the very last people to understand their books," Shevek says deadpan.
Calliope chuckles and agrees, “Especially the sex scenes.”
“You would say that, Cali,” Kelly interjects, “only you and my mother ever admitted to liking the sex in it. My girlfriend at the time, Kathy, hated them. That gave me pause at certain delicate times.”
They laugh. Then both Shevek and Calliope say in a jumble. “But really, it is good. “It is worth reading." “It captures the moment…’ More laughter.
"Well, now I really want to read it." Maria turns to Kelly. "So, how can I get a manuscript?"
Shevek interjects, “I will loan you mine. I will put it in your box tomorrow.”
“Just copy it, then you can have your own. It is samizdat after all.”
Maria leaves with a smile. At the stairs she turns and says, "I'll see you around..."
Kelly chirps, "Yah for sure" and thinks as he watches her walk away, "I'm such a jerk. 'Yah for sure'? I should have asked her out. But she did look back. I hope it was that look. I think it was. That fucking look. That 'you're a real person' look. That 'who are you?' look. Is it real? Oh Goddess I hope it is real. I hope she thinks I'm cool...or at least worth seeing again....Yah right, sure. What a desperate fantasizing lad."
Meanwhile Shevek and Calliope are talking and then Shevek takes his leave as well. He promises to meet with Kelly again soon. “It has been a real pleasure,” he adds as he carefully negotiates the steps to the street. Kelly watches him fondly.
“Let’s walk,” Kelly says. “I need to loosen the back. Sleeping on drunk tank floors never was my favorite thing…”
As they drift toward Pacific Ave. Calliope looks intently at him. “You know the anniversary of Simone’s death is next week?”
“You know I’m not much for anniversaries. What do the dead care?”
“Then what about the living? Have you been in touch with Nancy?"
"Are we going to review all my old lovers?"
"Just wondering. Look, you lived with her for a decade, you had a kid with her...YOU ARE RAISING A KID WITH HER... forever."
Kelly looks at her more closely. "What's up Calliope, what have you heard?"
"She's in Columbia now. Went down there with FOR in a peace brigade but is staying on. It is sort of dangerous what she is doing. But you know how she is. She can’t let it go. She thinks now is the time...”
He groans...”It is always a crisis with her. Fucking shit! I guess it is fucking real but fucking shit!”
"How articulate," Calliope remarks primly.
"Sorry... well, as if this wasn't enough. She's right you know. It's coming to a head...to a crisis... I can see it like a big set coming. I got to do more...”
"Well, you got busted..."
"That was a Kmart, check-in, check-out... I mean in a sustained way...like before."
"Fess up. It was real."
He relents..."Yah, jail is always real. Even if it is a Kmart. I mean, they can fuck with us anytime but in jail....you’re also in jail. I don't like it, but I need it. It makes me feel that feeling I'm living my life, not having it lived..."
“Ooohhh... you are so hot when you get political..." Her eyes glisten. Calliope looks up from under dark, dark lashes. "How does her skin stay so white?" Kelly wonders.
“Why don’t you come back to my place to…a…recuperate?”
He looks at her seriously. “Yah, well, we’ve got to talk about that.”
The light goes out in her eyes.