A kind of hommage

[12 March 2008]

I’m traveling to Germany, so I had an overnight flight last night. A long time ago I swore off red-eye flights from California to the East Coast, but for travel to Europe there seem to be no alternatives. Arriving in Amsterdam and then taking the train further seemed like a civilized way to organize things: it doesn’t make that much difference in the final arrival time, and trains are almost always more comfortable to travel in than airplanes.

I forgot to ask whether there were direct connections. There aren’t.

I had dimly imagined climbing into a train, finding a seat, and traveling further in a half sleep for a few hours before being deposited at my destination. The wait in Amsterdam seemed normal enough — I like Schiphol, it feels like one of the more civilized of European airports I travel through. But the change in Utrecht was a bit of a strain, and by noon and my second change of trains in Duisburg I had begun to feel as if I were in a surrealist movie.

Somewhere along the way, by a process that seems to have resembled automatic writing, the following account of an encounter with my evil twin appeared in my notebook.

My evil twin dropped by again the other day. He was not happy that in a couple of recent posts I had given him the pseudonym “Skippy”.

“Skippy!? What kind of name is that for an evil twin? I want a new name.”

“Look, I’m sorry if you didn’t like it. I was in kind of a hurry and it was the name that came to mind.”

“‘Skippy!’” He sulked a little more. “It sounds like the kind of evil twin George H. W. Bush would have.”

“Well, exactly,” I said. “It’s a reference to Garry Trudeau’s strips about Bush 41. Think of it as a kind of hommage.”

“Hommage, hell, you just got lazy. I don’t want to be Skippy, even as a cover name. Call me … Enrique.”


“Yes. Don’t you recognize it? It’s a reference to the Incredible Zambini Brothers.”

“Who? Sounds like an obscure San Francisco band.”

“No, you’re probably thinking of the Sons of Champlin. But it’s true, the Zambini brothers did have a cult classic once — The Incredible Zambini Brothers, All-Stars Again. It was a kind of combination jam session, cookbook, literary anthology, and football playbook. Riveting, really, if you have the right kind of chemical enhancements. So yeah, think of it as a kind of hommage.”

I have got to start getting more sleep when I do trans-Atlantic flights.

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