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Inappropriate in public since July 2006

Stefan Kiesbye Archive

Stefan Kiesbye

Azzurro

September 21st, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LONG BEACH, CA-

My father drove a blue Opel Kadett. I was three, maybe four, and for this particular trip – maybe up north to my grandparents who lived close to the Danish border — he’d received a company car, a green Ford Coupe with a black vinyl top. I don’t remember what made it necessary, but the new, large car was exciting, and my sister and I had extra room in the back, even though the Ford had a sloping roofline. We were much too small to hit our heads.

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Stefan Kiesbye

Get Run Down in K-Town — See Three Saints!

August 22nd, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES, CA-

I run, and I’m pissed that Runner’s World, this Poets & Writers of the running community, this absolutely useless gloss rag which is great to read on the crapper, chose Sarah Palin over me as their “I’m a Runner” of the month. So I didn’t run for VP, but this should count in my favor. I didn’t pretend to know what’s going on in Japan, even though I can practically see it from Long Beach. (more…)


Stefan Kiesbye

A Thousand Words: Happy New Year

July 22nd, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES, CA-

“The best models are those you’ve slept with,” was a line from one of her teachers that Ulli liked to repeat. ‘Happy New Year’ is what she called the picture, and you could buy it as a postcard in souvenir shops and book stores around West Berlin. This was 1988, when the city was still surrounded by Communism. The Wall was still intact. So were my dreams of becoming an actor. I was 22.

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Stefan Kiesbye

Interview — And Please Wear Professional Attire

July 15th, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES-

Really? I mean, do you need to have a TV and a radio blaring at the same time, in the same small office? A marketing firm, valuing face-to-face contact with clients. The face-to-face not working so well in that dingy suite of a nondescript office complex on Ventura Boulevard. Two blocks over, the L.A. River in its cemented bed exudes more charm. A central room with the young-yet-worn secretary, four offices beyond, short-and-slick-haired, in-their-early-to-mid-to-late-twenties male suits in those offices. With bad shoes. Run-down heels, worn out leather, cheap in the first place. (more…)


Stefan Kiesbye

A Thousand Words: Ghost Story

July 5th, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES-

In her last years my grandmother Ida Mattern, when visiting my parents in the small town in Lower Saxony, could be seen sitting neatly dressed on the brown plush sofa, her back to the tall windows. A crocheted kerchief in her hand, she read the yellow presses and did crossword puzzles. She had taken to Boris Becker and tennis, and if he was playing, she watched the match on TV. (more…)


Stefan Kiesbye

Korean Dumplings

July 3rd, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES-

My wife and I drive to a nondescript mall off Wilshire, park the car in the shade, so the dog won’t suffocate, and make our way to the Korean Dumpling restaurant. The specifications we read in the LA Magazine are all wrong and the owner laughs at us and explains that Mandu and King Dumplings are the same and that the King Dumplings can be had with beef or Kimchi and that the panfried dumplings come only with pork. (more…)


Stefan Kiesbye

Panties in the Woods - Something of a Memoir

June 25th, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES-

When my sister and I were still young, our dad would sometimes take us on a long walk through the woods that started right behind our house in a small industrial suburb in Northern Germany and seemed to stretch forever, even though forever ended at the road to Frankenbostel, a village that was important only to its farmers. I can’t recall how long these walks really lasted, but they seemed dominated by silence and small whispers, so as not to disturb the animals and the overall atmosphere of making our way through brush and over small, secret meadows, where small prints on the ground told stories we were unable to read. We knew they were stories, we’d read all the Wild West novels by Karl May, and were familiar with noble and not so noble Indians reading the ground in front of them, but we could only guess. Still, we didn’t realize how little we knew, and felt just like our heroes Old Shatterhand and Winnetou, the Chief of the Apaches.

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Stefan Kiesbye

Elegy for a Tutor

June 19th, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES, CA-

The two teenagers are making out on the sofa to my left, not two feet away. They kiss, then speak to each other in Spanish. Fabiola, my 3rd grade student, sits at the table with me, to my right, hunched over a word search for ‘winter.’ She’s never seen snow, a blizzard, or sleet. I tell her about snow storms in Buffalo, and the ‘Zero Visibility’ ice-cream. Her friend, she answers, who moved to L.A. from Colorado, has seen hail the size of Chicken McNuggets. Which are Fabiola’s favorite food.

In Spanish, the boy asks, “Does he speak Spanish?”

“No,” I say, “but I’m not stupid.”

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Stefan Kiesbye

Hitler, Hitler, Hitler!

February 5th, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES, CA-

2008, up to November 5th, belonged to Barack Obama. Then it was all Hitler once again. It is amazing and yet somehow not surprising that 63 years after his demise, Hitler is still selling. From Valkyrie to The Reader, from Defiance to Hitler’s Private Library, movies and books squeeze hard and extract still some juice from this very old lemon.

Why? There are, I suspect, more answers to this questions than books and films being made about World war II, but here’s my current one: (more…)


Stefan Kiesbye

Cave of the Winds

January 30th, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES, CA-

“The Maid of the Mist isn’t running,” a tourist with a British accent says, studying a map of Niagara Falls, New York. “Wasn’t there something called the Cave of the Winds?” His companion, a slim woman with red hair and freckles and dark-brown eyes, shrugs, crinkling her nose. The man continues, “I remember you wore raincoats, climbed a slippery wooden stairway and entered a cave behind the falls.” “Maybe,” the woman answers, but she seems cold in her black pea coat, seems to shrink from an overcast day and icy drizzle. She puts a small hand on the man’s arm and asks, “Would we want it to be open in November?”

The Cave of the Winds, once located behind the Bridal Veil Falls, was destroyed by a controlled dynamite blast in 1955. By then the once large cave – 130 feet high, 100 feet wide and 100 feet deep, had shrunk and been reduced to about a third its original size. Falling rocks had ‘shrunk’ the cave and hurt or endangered several visitors. (more…)


Stefan Kiesbye

Narratives of the Perverse

January 22nd, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES, CA-

In 1998, Michael G., a 54-year-old Church of England Vicar was jailed for five years after he attacked his sleeping wife with a hammer. The blow fractured her skull, and nearly killed her, but as a witness for the defense, she said, “I love him very much, we are very happy together…I know he would not do anything like this to me.” The defense said they believed that an intruder had committed the crime, but the jury did not believe that version.

That same year, Harold S., an English general practitioner, was convicted of murdering 15 patients. Nobody knows when he started to kill his older clients – the youngest was 43 – but it is estimated that he killed up to 250, 80 percent of them female.

Just last year, Josef F. of Austria was discovered to have imprisoned and raped his daughter in the cellar of his house for 24 years. He had fathered seven children with her, and kept them hostage as well. Professedly unbeknownst to his wife and family, he had expanded the cellar repeatedly and built an underground apartment for the abused.

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Stefan Kiesbye

K-Town, Guitars, Dograts, Parking and Coffee Shops – Did I Mention Fantasy Football?

September 26th, 2008
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES-

Okay, up front, I’m addicted to bad beer, even though I hail from the country of beer, the country of the oldest food law (das Reinheitsgebot (concerning beer)) but my K-Town Krushers, just like the Buffalo Bills, are so far undefeated. They have deposed of the Demolition, the Iron Lad Legacy, and the Bone Rangers. Next up – the Dooshaloosh. If the Bills go to the Super Bowl for the fifth time, I’ll buy a flat screen TV, eat three pies of Pepperoni pizza from King of New York (yep, the best) and drink Bud Light with Clamato juice (yep, comes only in cans).

It’s seven and a half weeks since I moved from Ann Arbor, MI to Koreatown. I’m not yet sure if that’s a common thing, but my first day here, I was offered a guitar on the street and bought it. Two nights ago, while walking my dog, a car pulled into the driveway ahead of me, and two guys got out (fifty-ish, tall) and one proceeded to open the trunk and asked if I wanted to buy a guitar. He had two, and I declined, and he put them back into the trunk. It’s a nice thing, that, and I hope my streak continues.

Dogs. There are none here in the neighborhood. Dograts it has plenty though, these ankle-biting fiercely yapping things people carry in shopping bags, and whose turds are everywhere. My dog’s poop is bigger than those dogs.

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Stefan Kiesbye

No Language, No Sex

September 17th, 2008
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES-

Recently I leafed through the new issue of Poets & Writers, and saw an ad for a magazine that sought stories from the Old West. It ended by warning potentially interested authors: “No language, no sex.” I laughed. How you submit a story without language is anyone’s guess, but of course I knew what the editors were after. That, actually, was the sad part.

Sure, everybody can have their own magazine and do with it whatever they enjoy. But I’ve seen several examples of these calls to PG-13 your stories, and while the end of publishing raunchy, grimy stuff that smells bad isn’t nigh, I see this call to verbal prohibition as a larger sign of just how tame, conservative, and dark these days are getting.

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Stefan Kiesbye

A Few Thoughts on ‘And’ and ‘But’

August 14th, 2008
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES, CA-

Okay, it would be a whole lot more elegant if instead of ‘but’ I used ‘yet,’ but it’s not going to happen. For the simple reason that most people use ‘but’ more often than ‘yet,’ the latter sounding almost too literary these days.

My first doubts about the usage of ‘but’ came when I was still living in Berlin, Germany. The German ‘aber’ seemed restrictive, and it wasn’t to my taste. The same is true for the English ‘but,’ and here is why:

Her husband died three months ago, and tomorrow Helen will marry her boyfriend.

Her husband died three months ago, but tomorrow Helen will marry her boyfriend.

The two sentences seem to say the same thing, and don’t. The first one states two facts and connects them, and doesn’t pass a judgment on Helen. The second however objects to the fact that Helen is marrying her boyfriend so quickly after her husband’s death. If that is the speaker’s intention, then, of course, ‘but’ is a tremendous help. If, however, you do not want to doubt Helen’s new marriage, why use that ‘but’?

‘But,’ to me, is an instrument of our morals or values. Without saying, “I really think Helen should have waited another year after poor Harry choked on his celery stick,” the user of the second example has expressed that same opinion.

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