Sunday, February 26, 2012


1. Me 
 An Ashman must maintain a professional attitude in adverse situations. --The Ashman’s Handbook 

 A flaming butt thrown at my eyes was my reward for pointing out to the ped that his fly was open. He didn’t even look at me except for that instant it took to calculate the trajectory and pitch the end of his cigarette my way. I could tell he wasn’t even aiming for the ash can just under my chin. He made eye contact for one split second to line up the shot—long enough for me to see the malignant indifference that separates some people from the good ones. The ASH-341 can unit has no armholes, so the best you can do is duck your head and flip inbound incendiaries into the ash receptacle with the bill of your ball cap. It was a maneuver I’d practiced a thousand times. I heard of one guy whose hat had blown off in the wind and got his hair set on fire. By the time they put the fire out, half of his scalp had third degree burns. Veteran canmen like yours truly keep their hair short. Our official title is Ashman, but nobody but the supervisors call us by that name. The peds call us ‘canman’ or sometimes ‘buttman’ to get a rise out of us, but I don’t mind. People have to relieve their stress somehow, I figure, and I don’t take it personally. Before I got this job I probably looked down on canmen too. Figuratively, I mean, because everyone except kids and midgets look down on us in the literal sense—sitting all day in a yard high cylindrical can with a one gallon ash receptacle in the middle. Our job is to be the conscience of the smoker who really wants to quit, but won’t admit it to himself. It was the System that thought of it, naturally. It put together job creation with smoking eradication and came up with the idea—a true stroke of genius in my opinion.

So begins Canman [doc], which is referred to in the end notes of Nova's Continuation. In order to become part of the LA canon, it needs a rewrite and probably different voicing. If you're a writer with a sardonic voice and an interest in political philosophy, you are welcome to contribute.