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Postmodern Village
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The Mainly Annual EastWesterly Review/Postmodern Village Conference 2003

A Report on the 10th Annual Conference
by Lael Ewy


Loquation, Loquation, Loquation

In the desert . . .We began the saga of the 10th annual 2003 EastWesterly Review/Postmodern Village Conference in a pasture near lovely Clines Corners, New Mexico, where Norma Perfect whetted our appetites with her poem "Grain-Fed Girls of Nebraska Led to the Slaughter by the Prod of Patriarchy." We had a surprisingly good time as the first papers were presented playing in the field; with the picturesque Sangre de Christo mountains to the north, the high-desert took on a purple tinge in the mid-morning light. There was plenty to do despite the limited onsite entertainment, including playing with the pebbles and the yucca, and cuddling the spritely desert mice that populated the pasturage and darted to and fro between the presentation tents.

HypochondriacsOur fun was spoiled, however, when the mouse-players (a cadre of, primarily, former Bostonians from Philadelphia -- they claimed that with self-improvement and economy, they could train the mice to found a lending library) began coughing uncontrollably. They joined the delegation from Beijing whose plane had been routed through Toronto in the medical tent. The Beijing delegation had arrived with their own inexplicable bronchial ailment and had retired to the makeshift health facility early on.

Big SarsA certain bunch of white males took to drinking in order to "fortify themselves" against the mysterious viral infections making the rounds of the conference. Their erratic journey down to the ghost town of Chloride, New Mexico, where the state health officials quarantined us, they then dubbed "The Trail of Beers." When it was suggested by myself and others that their title was, perhaps, a bit racially insensitive, they responded that Congress’s "Eensy-weensy" tax cut was what was insensitive to taxpayers everywhere and that it should have been much, much larger. When further objections were made, veiled threats to call the Department of Homeland Security for our "unAmerican commentary" precipitated a hasty end to the conversation.

It ain't much, but it's all we gotAccommodations
were, indeed, spare, given the normally unpopulated nature of Chloride. Wind whistled through the split wood of the walls on the ramshackle 19th Century saloon we eventually lit upon to serve as our Conference Center, coating our plasma-screen video presentation wall with fine dust and further exacerbating the respiratory ailments that had now come to afflict some 80% of the conferees. Electricity was spotty, shutting down the most soul-baring moments of the "Sex as Semiotics" talent show, and a rattlesnake nest kept many patrons away from the bar. Most of us were too ill to care, however, adding an ironic sense of hope to an otherwise much too interesting situation.


Attendance
was, surprisingly, up, to 1140 at the time the Conference gathered in Clines Corners. Numbers dwindled, however, after our quarantine, with the still mobile attendees sneaking off to nearby Truth or Consequences to take the healing waters there. Of those, only the ones caught by the state health officials were able to return. By the time the van from the CDC arrived to cart off the dead, though, some fascinating and important papers were presented, with a few themes to be noted, among them politics as text, TV as science, and, as always, celebrity.


Page 2: Pop culture is for the living.