PRINT Summer 1983


I really begin to understand any society by going through its junk stores and flea markets. It is a form of education and historical orientation for me. I can see the results of ideas in what is thrown away by a culture.

—Ed Kienholz1

WHAT IS THAT OBSCURE CATALYST that shapes you, gives your life definition? In Roman Catholicism, the fathers mystify it, call it a “calling,” but I refuse to romanticize. Without irony, shame, or hyperbole how do I explain that in 1966, I, a middle-class, Jewish, Los Angeles teenager (like, totally, a Valley Girl sans whine), one sunny April Saturday experienced two cultural events—a museum exhibition and a movie—that powerfully determined my future? The movie: Herb Gardner and Fred Coe’s A Thousand Clowns, starring Jason Robards, Jr., as a bohemian bachelor father (did his sister run off and leave him with her son?), a dropout from the ulcerated milieu of

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