Winter 2011-2012

November 6th: The Town Crier

Elizabeth Demaray

This contribution to Cabinet’s “24 Hours” issue was completed in New York, New York, in 23 hours, 58 minutes.


I asked three participants to stop three times during the course of November 6th and note, on a piece of paper, all the stories that they had heard from friends or noticed in the media. At the end of the day, I tallied the stories and then asked each crier to retell the tales that were commonly noted among the group. These stories where recorded during Skype chats that evening.

In each retelling, I requested that the participants omit proper names and assume that listeners did not share their knowledge of mainstream culture, in order that each tale might function in an allegorical way.

Morning stories: Aged commentator died, sleep apnea, leg cramp cure, cousin’s marriage, ill-fated reality TV marriage, Amazing Race (participant one). Molestation case, financial woes in Europe, sports team may do poorly, short-lived celebrity weddings (participant two). Pop singer’s paternity suit, outer-space tractor beam, people now friends on online social network (participant three).

Participant one: There was this old guy, he was kind of mean and he had a bad temper. He had the bushiest white eyebrows and hair and sagging skin. He was round in the face and he always stood behind a desk and complained. So he had this job on TV where all he had to do was complain about something. And he was perfect at it. He just complained and complained. But some of the topics he talked about were kind of ridiculous. So this guy died. He was ninety-two years old and it was about time that he died. But some people are really sad about it. But he was old, he took up enough space on this world, and he had to go. My sister is really upset that he died. Especially because he just retired two weeks ago. And I was like well, what else was he going to do anyway?

Commentator who was on a show that lasted about sixty minutes, every week. Drawing by Allan Espiritu.
Famous disliked leader left in freezer. Drawing by Kat Dee.
Sad European nation that must sell its islands to pay off its debt. Drawing by Hugo Bastidas.
Ill-fated reality television wife. Drawing by Hugo Bastidas.

Participant two: This story is about a country in the southern part of Europe. Their credit has been blown to pieces and they are struggling now to pay back the money that they owe. And they borrowed a lot of money and kept spending it like it was free, not really thinking about the day that they would have to pay it back. So now they have to pay back all the money. And a lot of their businesses were running because of a flow of money that wasn’t really theirs. Now these businesses are also going to close.

It’s rather tragic. A new political figure in the country is now proposing to fire many government employees and he is planning to sell off beautiful islands that this country owns in order to pay for this borrowed money, this free ride that they have been on. It’s really sad.

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