Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 6#2/3 Joost Niemöller 1 Jan 1991



Joost Niemöller is the soft-voiced, mild-mannered author of the novel Revenge. He is currently writer in residence at the University of Texas, Austin


Niemöller -

The best money can buy

Okay. So I've arrived here in Austin, TX. I don't have anything in this house, you know? Only a note pad. I call it my television pad. I watch and make notes of what I see. For instance, what the strongest TV advertisements are here. Pizza Hut: we're the guys! Or American Pie. Okay, they're dumb, but really professional. Okay. So I've only got a telephone here. Go with my landlady and pick up a superfax, no kidding. Panasonic KX-F90. Answering machine and Fax. Speed dialing. Programming secret phone numbers. Copy machine. You can record a two way conversation. Automatic dialer. Auto receive timer. Polling. Privacy Ring. Message playback. And more! Okay. I got the thing for $577.82. Not bad. Would cost you more than two thousand guilders in Holland for sure. Next day I see it in another discount place, same thing for $450.00. That puts you on the alert, makes an American buyer out of you. Okay. Got my fax, that makes a big difference. But what I really need is my pc. I can't think anymore, without that thing. I get scattered. Everything gets scattered. I'm sitting here with a Goddamn Smith Corona SL 500 electric typewriter. I can only correct one line at a time. Structure a text, forget it. Okay, in my room at the UT, I have a Macintosh, an old one. Hadn't ever worked with it. Was always into IBM. So I go to the Computer lab at UT, there are all these cyberpunks in shorts, screaming their codes at one another across the room. Okay. I get a disc, to learn it with. The world of Mac. The world of Mac puts my nerves on edge so badly that once I'm outside, everything on campus looks like the world of Mac. So. But I want my own pc at home. I'm getting more and more scattered. I'm falling apart. So. Me and the landlady go to Austin in her car. To every discount shop. Now I know exactly what I want. I want a notebook. I see a Sharp for $1200. Not bad. Too bad, just sold out. So, off to Radio Shack, where they only sell Tandy. Good, they've got one for a thousand. With a big printer. $ 2200 for the whole works – not bad. But they don't want to take my Visa credit card, Goddamnit. Standing there in that shop, like a jerk. Back home. Wait for a check. Waiting, waiting, waiting. The guy from Radio Shack calls. Good, we can get the stuff anyway, it turns out. Have till January to pay for it! Great! Off I go. Fill in the form. They want all my personal information on paper. My employment information. My personal references. My financial references. I find this all pretty unpleasant. This guy, C. Kainen, calls up the main office, they still say: No. Shit. But there's still hope. In the BIZMART (the biggest discount shop in Austin that I've seen yet), they sell a Toshiba notebook for almost 800, a real little one, and the Canon BJ-10E bubble-jet printer is real little and new, too, for 330. So my bad luck gets me more than a thousand bucks. It's God, my landlady says. Okay. Cash my check, and then I can think again.

translation JIM BOEKBINDER