New Orleans from the dishpit



When I was seventeen, a friend once pushed a little stack of papers into my hand and said, "Here, read this." It was a "zine",, a little photocopied magazine, the first I'd ever seen, one called "Dishwasher". The premise was that the zine's author, "Dishwasher Pete" was attempting to wash dishes-and write about the experience- in all fifty states. It was more than just a "Hey, look how wacky I am" kind of thing, though, the little magazine (which had a subscribership of nearly ten thousand at its peak) was more like a treatise on happiness (and the pursuit of) while trying to live under the radar of an overwhelming capitalist society. The stories of Pete's own misadventures were accented with vignettes of Dishwasher history and dish-related labor struggle.

Now, ten years or so after he stopped putting out "Dishwasher", Dishwasher Pete has gone back to his original name, Pete Jordan, and has put out a book that collects and expands upon all the issues of Dishwasher.

In his journeys, Pete found himslef in New Orleans several times, staying, it seems, somewhwere in Mid-City with a friend, and dishing at a bunch of places I don't recognize. There's a good chapter on how when he first came to the city, everyone said he'd have a hard time finding dishwasher work because no one would hire white people for the job; they'd try to get him to be a waiter instead. He does have trouble finding work, in fact, and ends up dishing on an oil rig in the Gulf!

When I saw that the book was set up like a standard autobiography, I was distrustful, but it definitely retains the charm and humor of the origianl publications, and is worth checking it out. It's also nice to read something that is a bit of a throwback to when `being a sarcastic, lazy slacker was not only something to not be ashamed of, but actually to be flaunted.

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