Friday, April 25, 2003


More excerpts from Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief:

"Laroche ran his finger along one of the curly ears and said, 'Imagine you're this plant. Why do you have petals that do this? It has some purpose, everything has some purpose. I believe in botany by imagination. I try to put myself in the plant's point of view and try to figure them out. The only ones with features that have no real purpose are the hybrids, because someone put them together and came up with an unnatural thing. That's the cool thing with hybridizing. You are God. You do the plant sex. It's a man-made hobby.'

'Are there any hybrids that occur naturally?'

'Hardly any,' he said.


He snorted. 'Well, you wouldn't, even in a fit of boredom, decide to have sex with a gorilla, right?'"


"The band started playing 'Down in the Boondocks.' The crowd clapped along through the entire song. Toward the end of the final verse, a little boy-- Chief Billie's youngest son-- ran out into the middle of the arena followed by a small, fat alligator whose jaws were held shut with duct tape. The boy was slight, bare-chested, and barefoot. In a moment he cornered the alligator and then straddled it. The crowd cheered and Chief Billie smiled, brushing his lips against the microphone. The boy arched his back. The alligator arched his back. With one hand the boy grabbed the alligator's snout and raised it in the air. With his other hand he reached up and flashed a victory sign."


"I wanted to go to the community dinner, but it was Indians-only, and no one I appealed to for permission would budge. Vinson explained that it would bother the older people to have a white person at the dinner-- that no matter how many years they'd been mixing in the non-Indian world, they still felt separate and suspicious. 'White people, it's your job to make money,' he said to me. 'Indians, we have our own job. Our job is to take care of the earth. We are different from you and we always will be.'"


"When the four of us were gathered by the tree, the ranger finally introduced me to the giants and said they were in the inmate work-release program of Copeland Road Prison, just down the road from the Fakahatchee-- I had passed it on my way in. Both of the men were bashful and spoke in tiny, mumbly voices. After we were introduced I noticed that both of them were carrying three-foot-long machetes. I'm not sure how I hadn't seen the machetes before that, but maybe it was because the men had been wading behind me most of the way. I hate hiking with convicts carrying machetes."


"We stood in the lake for a while and every now and then one or the other or both of them would raise their machetes and then smash them into the water with a frightful, squeamish look on their faces. The speed of their swings was ferocious, and the machetes smashing against the water sounded like someone getting spanked. The ranger leaned over and whispered to me that she had given the men the machetes because they were both terrified of snakes and had refused to get into the swamp without some protection. After she gave them the machetes they had agreed to get in, but even heavily armed they were as jumpy as rabbits and stood holding their hands stiff and high above the water. Every time a bubble would rise to the surface of the lake or a tree would drop a leaf or a bird would peep, the giants and I would panic. When I panicked I froze. When one of the giants panicked he would pop up nervously and then the other one would pop up nervously too, and the water displaced by their combined weight rolled in silky waves across the lake. The cold black water slapped at my belly button every time they would pop up and down. The swamp was hot and hushed except for all the splashing and the smack of the giants' machetes against the water. You could disappear in a place like this, really disappear, into one of these inky sinkholes or in the warm mulch under the thick brush. No one could find you in a place like this once you sank in. Just then I got extremely curious but decided to wait until we were out of the swamp and in a secure government vehicle before I asked the giants what they were in prison for."


And excerpts from two interviews:

"As a kid, I was a voracious mystery reader, and it's my mother's fault. When I was about ten, my mother gave me a book by a writer named Stuart Kaminsky called Murder on the Yellow Brick Road, which she had been told was suitable for 'younger readers.'

It wasn't. It was about porn film being shot on the disused Wizard of Oz sets in the late 1930s in Hollywood, and it had profanity, and guns, and sex, and man oh man was I ever hooked." -- Greg Rucka


"The Onion: Throughout your work, there's a running theme regarding the development of and subversion of sexuality. Where does that theme come from? Why does it particularly interest you?

Neil Jordan: It probably comes from being an altar boy."

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