Notes From The Underground

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 101 in 1998.

From April 7th to the 9th, 1999, Brown University will be hosting a three-day conference and workshop for writers, publishers, and technologists to shape the authoring, publishing, and reading tools of the next century for interactive fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

Attendees will include Robert Arellano, the instructor of the Hypertext Fiction Workshop at Brown, as well as co-author and publisher of LSD-50, the Internet's first hypertext 'zine, since 1993, and author of Sunshine '69, the Web's first interactive novel, Jeff Ballowe, who led the launches of 5 magazines, ZDNet on the Web, and ZDTV and serves as Chairman of DejaNews and as a director of, VerticalNet, and ZDTV, Mark Bernstein, president and chief scientist of Eastgate Systems, a pioneer company in the development of hypertext and hypermeda, a leading software vendor of electronic writing tools such as Storyspace, and publishers of original hypertexts--poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, Robert Coover, author of some fifteen books of fiction, including Pricksongs & Descants, The Public Burning, and most recently Ghost Town, he has for the past decade been teaching experimental courses in hypertext and multimedia narrative at Brown, Jane Yellowlees Douglas has published over two dozen articles about hypertext, narrative, and aesthetics in edited collections and journals in the US, UK, and Australia, she is also the author of I Have Said Nothing, which appeared originally in the Eastgate Quarterly Review and, recently, in Postmodern American Fiction: A Norton Anthology, Michael Joyce, the author of the groundbreaking hyperfiction, afternoon, as well as such multimedia works as Twilight, a Symphony and Twelve Blue, his newest work, On the birthday of the stranger, is now on-line in the EvExSite, and many others.

Click for more info.


The New Yorker magazine's March 8th cover by Art Spiegelman has Governor Pataki, Mayor Giuliani and the New York police force up in arms.

The reference, for those of you who do not reside in our fair city, is to the recent killing of Amadou Diallo, a black man, by four white New York City cops. Diallo, stopped by officers looking for a recent shooting suspect, reached into his pocket, prompting the four officers to fire 41 shots, hitting the unarmed man in every major organ. The only items found on Diallo's body were a beeper and a wallet. The cover has been called a "cheap shot" by NY police officials. We kind of like it.


Federal judge Lowell A. Reed of the District Court in Philadelphia has blocked the Child On-line Protection Act. The law, signed last Fall but never put into effect when Reed halted the process with a temporary restraining order, which would have expired on midnight, Feb. 1, the day he filed his decision.

Reed said that the fears expressed by the people who brought the suit to stop the law were "reasonable given the breadth of the statute. Such a chilling effect could result in the censoring of constitutionally protected speech, which constitutes an irreparable harm to the plaintiffs." He expressed "personal regret" that the decision would postpone a law protecting children from inapropriate material on the web, but added, "perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if the First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection."

For more on the Act and who would have felt its effects, see The Child On-line Protection Act, by Jason Meagher, from Evergreen #101.


New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has plans to auction off over 300 of the city's abandoned lots, of which 118 have been converted to community gardens.

There are currently 11,000 vacant lots in New York, with a reported 500-700 of them considered gardens by their communities. The gardens were "on-loan" and aparantly the Giuliani and his staff feel that the land could be put to better use.

"People that administer the gardens know that at some point or another, the city is going to take some sort of action," said Hector Barista, first deputy at the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development. "The Giuliani administration is trying to dispose of property not slated for housing development, economic development and so forth. We are trying to privatize as many city-owned properties as we can."

Of the lots that are considered to be gardens by the people who tend them, only 36 are designated as permanent gardens. Two of them that are not considered permanent have existed for over 20 years; the Parque de Tranquilidad and the All People's Garden on the Lower East Side. Also not protected is the Garden of Eden in Queens, which appeared in National Geographic three years ago in an issue celebrating Earth Day.

The city gardeners have staged protests and attended public hearings to attempt to block the sale of the gardens, but so far it has been to no avail. The converted lots serve as a source of pride for the people who tend them, many containing herb and vegetable patches.

"These gardeners deserve to be rewarded for neighborhood improvement, and instead they are being smacked in the face," said Brad Will of the More Gardens Coalition.

Giulaini doesn't think so, and in a recent argument against saving the gardens stated that the gardeners failed to recognize the needs of a free-market economy and were stuck in "the era of communism." The lots are planned to go on sale in May.


Almost one year after the American media picked up the story about the horrible conditions facing garment workers in the U.S. commonwealth Saipan, things seem to have remained the same.

In January of this year, human rights groups filed sweeping lawsuits alleging that thousands of Thai, Chinese and Korean women are forced to work under slave-like conditions on the Pacific island. The suit filed against some of America's top clothing retailers, is for almost $1 billion dollars claimed to be owed in back wages and damages. 25,000 workers on the island work long hours under hazardous conditions for below minimum wages. They are forced to live in rat infested, guarded barbed-wire compounds, many facing physical abuse (including forced abortions as reported by ABC News in April of 1998). Many of the workers are recruited from their native countries with the promise of a job in the U.S. The island is allowed to set its own immigration policy and because it is a U.S. possesion, the clothes can legally be labeled "Made in the USA."


A recent plane crash in Thailand has led to an interesting new policy for Thai airlines.

After a Thai Airways Airbus trying to land at Surat Thani in a heavy rainstorm crashed into a swamp short of the runway killing 101 of the 146 people on board, including the pilot, the airline made the following statement - "(Pilots) have been told to be passive and conservative. This means no landing in stormy weather."


Pulp Eternity is hosting a Best of the Web 98 contest open to all stories first published on-line during 1998. Winners will appear in an on-line anthology to be published this year.