I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

June 19, 2010

Rest in peace, Manute Bol. The world is shorter without you, and more wonderful because of you.

"Manute Bol Goes to Heaven" (from 2002)
All posts tagged "Manute Bol"

July 11, 2005

Every day is like camping when you're unemployed and you have no furniture. My comforter is spread out like a sleeping bag on the living room floor, carefully positioned underneath the ceiling fan, and there are two pillows within a three-foot radius of it at any given moment. I sleep there, serene and untroubled by the heat. I'm concerned that I might develop a complex about the bedroom, which I haven't used. I put the alarm clock in there to stake my claim, but there hasn't been a reason to wake up yet. I could drag the comforter in there to sleep at night, but then I'd be sprawled out on bare carpet when I watched television in the living room by the light of day, and that seems uncivilized.

(YO, the alarm clock represents the Spanish flag, in case my metaphors are too DANGEROUS for you!! And civilization is a Ronco showroom!!)

I saw an ad on craigslist about some office chairs that you could go and pick up for free, so I kicked my car into action and headed over to the driveway in question. Sadly, though, I failed to fit any of the nice ones into my two-door Civic. I guess I overestimated how much it can hold. I mean, until recently, I had basically everything I own crammed into it. Books, mostly, and some incoherent t-shirts. A television, a laptop. Some stuffed monkeys, some Russian military gear. An autographed picture of Manute Bol. And I can't fit an office chair in there? I'm about to roll up on the space-time continuum with some what discount outlet sold you that internal logic?! type shit. Anyway, I did manage to squeeze a rolling chair into the front seat. I brought it into the living room, but it was ruining the feng shui, so I put it out on the porch. It has kind of a 1970s home office feel, the chair does, and now the porch does, too, by extension. But inside, the camping trip continues. Except when I'm thirsty, I can get some root beer out of the refrigerator, which you can't do when you're camping, unless you brought a cooler, but electricity is a kind of ice that never melts, nature boy!! Holla back now!!

Everything is going well. My rent is paid until August, and there is a pool within twenty feet of my front door. I'm paying for an internet connection, too. This is the first time I've paid for an internet connection since I was in Japan, and since everything ran through the yakuza in that neighborhood, who knows if we were even paying for it, or if it even was the internet. At my last apartment, my upstairs neighbor was letting me use his wireless network. I baked him some cookies, and later I bought him a case of High Life. Does that count as paying for it? (YO, High Life represents the champagne of beers, in case my metaphors are still too DANGEROUS for you!! Or at least that's what the packaging said. I don't know. I've never tried it.) Anyway, if there's one thing I fucking love, it's paying bills, so that's working out, too.

I guess I'm already leaving my mark on this apartment, because there appears to be a brown spot on the carpet over where I was sprawled out on the floor earlier, eating chocolate ice cream. I'm going to start eating well tomorrow. Today has been a shameful day in nutritional terms, dominated as it has been by cookies, ice cream and, for reasons that are still unclear, two pickles. The food in Austin is amazing, though. The worst thing I've eaten so far, a soggy eggplant sandwich, would have been cause for a triumphal march in Chicago. It occurs to me now that I can't remember if any of my friends in Chicago cooked for me this year. In case they did, let me say that I was not including your cooking in that generalization, because when you cooked for me, it was in a city called love. See? Nobody's offended! Are you amazed by what I can do with words? God, sometimes I sure am. I have ironclad strategies to mask my emotional inadequacies, in print at least.

Tomorrow I will start making phone calls to ask people why they have ignored the friendly cover letters I sent them in response to their job postings. I realize that my resume doesn't make a lot of sense. I mean, I wrote it - heck, I lived it. But I feel like it has character, and it's all true, so that has to count for something. Nobody will hire me, though, that much is clear. I've moved on from my old theory, which held that my first employer, Beelzetron, was maintaining a blacklist, and every company in the United States was abiding by it - especially with the names that were in bold, at the top, in an eye-catching font, like mine surely was - Comic Sans MS?! Doris, somebody got a coffee ring on my tie!! My new theory is much more complex than that. So, as it turns out, purely by accident, there's some kind of a Da Vinci code in my resume, and I can't see it because I haven't read that book, but all of the hiring managers eat that shit up, so they see it right away, and the code says, STARVE THE BEAST. That is what is causing all of these problems. I will find a way to get paid, though. I always do.

December 9, 2002 I find myself surrounded, in this ever-mysterious season of winter, by powerful totems. My autographed 8X10 photo of Manute Bol arrived in the mail, and I have a nice frame waiting at home for it. While searching through auction sites for a suitable bowling bag for the next bowling season, I found this, which caused me to lose consciousness; when I awoke, I found that I'd done the best two hours worth of work since I arrived, and the rabbi was mighty pleased. I remain woozy. I bought a Christmas tree this weekend, and my apartment smells of pine needles. I thought my cats might find the tree interesting. Unfortunately, the younger of the two found it interesting in an eating sort of way, and he is now quite sick. He'll be fine, though, and he is being polite about where he throws up.

In a free moment, I decided to check up on the Chinese Space Program. I have been keeping an eye on those guys for a while, but every time I look away, there are new developments:

(news) Space authorities in China point to a Shenzhou 4 flying before year's end, perhaps indicative of a launch planned for sometime this month, said Phillip Clark, head of the Molniya Space Consultancy in the United Kingdom. "With just about everything tested for the manned program, I would think that Shenzhou 4 will be pretty-much a duplicate of what is planned for the first manned mission. That is, test everything out…but the men," Clark told SPACE.com. In March, Zhang Qingwei, president of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), was quoted by state-run media outlets as saying that new, more powerful launchers will boost a 20-ton permanently manned space station into orbit. "By Western and even former-Soviet standards, the Chinese manned space program is progressing at a painfully slow rate," Clark notes. "But then again, historically, the Chinese have always taken their time with programs and have taken little notice of the expectations of those observers outside China!"

Phillip Clark can talk all the space-trash he likes, but the Chinese themselves appear, by and large, to be content remaining enigmatic about their plans. They have been quite busy reserving intense domain names, and, judging by the design of the sites, some intense shit has been going down, but it has been going down in Chinese, which I do not understand, so I had to be content with raising one eyebrow at the laser-beacon CASC logo, a white-hot version of which Phillip Clark can probably expect to suddenly materialize above his bed in the near future in response to his mockery.

December 5, 2002 You might think that Manute Bol has a hard time finding clothes, standing 7'7" as he does. But here is a picture of him wearing a pretty sweet tux. Duck, you sucker.

Q: What will you do with two thousand dollars?
A: I will use it to cover the expenses for my latest project.
Q: What is your latest project?
A: It is a series of recordings intended to discredit Led Zeppelin.
Q: How will it work?
A: I will bring hoboes in off the street and give them a jug of rum. Then, once they've warmed up, I will record them rambling over instrumental tracks from "Physical Graffiti". It will serve as a vast improvement.
Q: But the truth revealed therein is not specific to Led Zeppelin. Everyone likes it when hoboes ramble, especially when they do not have to smell the hoboes in question.
A: I have no immediate answer to that.

December 4, 2002 The recent fall of snow has brought about a welcome detente in the fierce battle between the local College Socialists and the erstwhile residents of THE LAND OF THE DOUBLE BONE HARD NIGGAZ, a half-block territory that lies between my apartment and the train station. The dispute began over display rights on a choice lightpole inside THE LAND and has escalated into full-scale passive aggression. The College Socialists, who seem to have identified the side entrance of the Morse el station in Chicago as the key to worldwide economic overhaul, hold frequent demonstrations and newspaper sales there whenever weather conditions are more or less favorable. Then, when the evening rush dies down, they plaster the area with flyers for their upcoming meetings about Israel, George W. Bush and whatever else happens to be on their minds. Lately, the possibilty of war with Iraq has ratcheted their energy to new levels, leading them to widen the geographic reach of their flyers. That, unfortunately, is where the conflict comes in. As long-time readers know, THE LAND OF THE DOUBLE BONE HARD NIGGAZ is a half-block territory where apartment windows are always open for yelling back and forth, hoods of cars are outdoor couches, and at the corner laundromat, chillin' and the occasional threat come in first whereas laundry ain't even top ten. People know they are in the LAND because they see the lightpole that proudly bears its name. The lightpole serves as a valuable community meeting-place, where residents can share information on how tough they are and who has done them wrong. Needless to say, its loyalists did not take kindly to the first College Socialists flyer that appeared there, denouncing Bush as a war criminal. Someone wrote 'FUCK Y' on it, and someone else tore off the middle, untaped half of the flyer. Amateur observers might wonder if the DOUBLE BONE HARD NIGGAZ lean rightwards in their political ideology, but I knew the answer had more to do with the fact that the flyer obscured the bejeweled crown that someone had drawn on the lightpole. The College Socialists are a plucky bunch, though, and they kept up with the flyers. Retaliation spread beyond the half-block LAND, and soon, someone was making a point of tearing through every flyer in a two-block radius. It was swift and decisive. As soon as a flyer went up, it was torn through. The Socialists offered what could be perceived as an olive branch with flyers for a seminar entitled "Why Are There More Black Men In Prison Than In College", but that did nothing to ease the anger they unleashed. The College Socialists are not much for inclement weather, so they have not been around since the first snowfall last week. We who are caught in the middle can only hope that calmer heads prevail when spring arrives.

(email) I feel obligated to notify you of a recent Manute Bol reference on the visionary interior decorating program "While You Were Out" (The Learning Channel, 5pm EST, M-F). Upon the alteration of a divan, the host remarks, "Why is it so long? It looks like Manute Bol's cot!" Although I found it a little insulting that she would assume Manute sleeps on a cot - true he has been through a few rough years, but with the Celebrety Boxing appearance and all I would hope that he could afford a specially and finely tailored bed - I was nonetheless excited by the reference and glad to see that he is getting some much-deserved exposure.

People I know have mostly grown accustomed to my endless musings about the suitability of furniture for Manute Bol (or Wilt Chamberlain, if I was trying to establish a frame of reference about how tall Manute is). It's just such an intriguing question. Beds, in particular, are a major part of Manute's inexplicable mystique. Where does a 7'7" shot-blocking giant sleep? I am only 6'3", and I didn't have a bed that fit me until I was 23. Other, less selfless tall men such as Georghe Muresan and Andre the Giant could spend their professional earnings on custom sleepware, but Manute gives all of his money to war-relief in his native Sudan, making one wonder how the poor guy ever gets a decent night's sleep. I have wondered aloud about this many times, and have been told by ex-girlfriends to stop talking about Manute Bol in bed many times, but I remain without an answer. I used to be similarly stumped about how he ever got a decent shower, but I did eventually work that one out.

November 20, 2002 Last night, I returned from travels in the barren darkness to find a monkey on AMC. That was a sight for sore eyes. I wish I knew what the movie was. There was a cute girl in a bikini and an earnest dorky matinee idol curly blonde guy, and they were frolicking, and then the monkey implied that the dorky guy masturbates, so the dorky guy got all angry and said "son of a bitch" and then apologized, but chased the monkey off anyway. Then it was revealed that evil Arabs were pursuing the pair with murderous intent, but not so doggedly as to prevent frolicking on the beach. The best part was when the dorky guy got mad because he tried to kiss the cute girl and she said she "wasn't ready for that sort of thing", and then the monkey showed up with another monkey and the two monkeys made out, sending the dorky guy into a fit of rage.

When I find myself in times of trouble
And there are no monkeys on TV...

Readers, displaying a reassuring trust that I am still in here somewhere, have been keeping me updated on the latest developments in the Manute Bol on Ice saga. For those who inexplicably missed the news, the cunning GM of the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League signed Manute Bol, the 7'7" shotblocking NBA legend, to a minor league hockey contract. Manute is 40 years old and long retired from basketball, but the GM must have seen something in the buttwhipping that Manute handed William "Fridge" Perry on FOX's Celebrity Boxing II, and the cagey Manute, seizing an opportunity to earn money for his Sudanese charity, agreed to terms. The team's webpage has a number of high resolution pictures here. Manute was like Yuri Gagarin trying to do a spacewalk in terms of being a very tall man playing hockey, though, because the team simply could not find skates that fit him, and Manute, knowing well that ice is slippery without proper footwear, retired, but not without making off with a bundle of cash for his charity.

Much of the debate has centered on whether this was terrible because Manute was being made into some manner of circus act, or whether the humanitarian aid provided by his appearance justifies the embarassment. I don't take either position. I don't see that it was an embarassment. To see Manute on ice is a thing of beauty. It is a pure moment, a sight that defies archetype and nature, that simply exists outside of the bloodstained reasoning of human history. The desperation that forced Manute to appear on The 700 Club was something to be regretted, sure. But hockey? For Manute? Shut up, just for a moment, and watch. Just watch. Stop trying to make this fit a story that existed before this moment did. If this was any old tall man, then perhaps this would be something else. But this is Manute Bol. He is defined by the fact that he cannot be denied. He is real. And there he goes. He's skating.

A need for something to do and relatively cheap tickets brought teenagers Brandon Anweiler and Jill Sexton to the arena. When asked about Bol, Anweiler turned to Sexton and said: "I hear he's like 7-10 on skates, which is amazing.''

Ring True Foundation
P. O. Box 271468
West Hartford, CT 06127-1468
Phone: 866-547-8326

I have made this purchase in order to clarify a few things around the office.

May 22, 2002 I think my plant may be retarded. I've been watching it for a while now, and things just don't seem to be going well with it. I know that it's getting enough water, and though the lighting isn't perfect, it's no worse than what the other plants that were handed out that day are getting, and they all seem to be doing fine. It's possible that I put mine too close to the computer monitor, and that's affecting it somehow. It's also possible that the plant is simply retarded, and was born that way, and it's not my fault, because I never asked to be responsible for a plant, which is a point that I cannot stress enough in the overall context of the plant's life expectancy.


Hey, did you hear that Rush is on tour this summer? Make sure you don't leave your stuff lying around. I hear those guys are big into taking shit and then claiming that since they found it, it's theirs.

I am currently mired in a bland yet forceful case of seasonal allergies. I had a bit of a row with the rabbi over the phone about whether I was blaming the Jewish people for my allergies. Man, I wasn't. I keep forgetting to pronounce the 'h' in his first name as a guttural consonant, and I think he's reading something into that. I thought about marrying someone from Iceland and bringing her around the office all the time as a retaliatory gesture, but I think that would be playing right into his hands. Please, could you stop the noise? I'm trying to get some rest.


Conduct extensive personal interviews with guys who work at car washes. Any time the conversation strays from their work at the car wash, steer it back that way. For publication, replace every adjective and adverb with its direct opposite, and change the names of those involved to prevent lawsuits. As a follow-up, publish the original, unaltered interviews. Assign a junior editor to track whether rivalries of any sort develop between the participants and their negative selves. If so, hire them at high salaries to work at "The All-Star Car Wash", and promote the business as being staffed by the guys from the book. Make a profit, and refuse to speculate why it has been a success, outside of interviews poorly translated from French, which are, themselves, poorly translated from English.

Anyway, I need a new job, one where God comes up less often. I am really not a God-talkin' kind of guy. I did a brief search for my dream job, and all that came up was bullshit.


Various ogres
Various ogres, various ogres
Fuck off, Hope
Various ogres

Do you think it would be construed as aggressive to post a list of the martial arts I know in my cubicle? I am just trying to make the place feel more home-y, since I seem to be stuck here, and my retarded plant is depressing the shit out of me.


Hey, did you hear that Rush is on tour this summer? I hear that Alex Lifeson hunted down kids from the suburbs and subsisted on nothing but their blood while they were writing the "Subdivisions" album. Not for inspiration or anything, just because Neil Peart convinced him that the overall cost of doing that was cheaper than eating actual food, and he wanted to save up for a new naugahyde recliner.

Fine. Developmentally-disabled plant.


1 Yoda, Star Wars
2 Charles Foster Kane, Citizen Kane
3 General Zod, Superman II
4 Monkey, MVP: Most Valuable Primate II
5 Guy from obscure French film

Also receiving votes:
Cast, The Big Lebowski; Bear, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence; Monkey, MVP: Most Valuable Primate; Tom Waits, various; Guy from obscure Iranian film.

There are player-haters, of course, who will call me shallow for ranking the monkey from MVP II over the guy from the obscure French film. To that charge, I can only respond, "Fabricated biting incident." (Note.) Tomorrow, player-haters across the world will renounce their ways. Tomorrow! God! The greatest of days!


Hey, did you hear that Rush is on tour this summer? It's a little known fact that Van Gogh cut off his ear because Geddy Lee's voice has actually existed since the beginning of time, and...

May 15, 2002 To quote one of the members of my group at the ImprovOlympic, after the voting for our second Cagematch appearance was tallied, "Damn! I'm naming my first-born child 69-12!"

So, that was nice.

I took a series of paranoid self-portraits with my lomo camera, but then I set the distance wrong, and I wound up exposing the film slightly when I tried to get it out of the camera, so I don't know if they'll come out at all. Nevertheless, I will call it art.


(whispering in her ear) You have to read it in the original French...uh, French braille. Do they have that?

A memo went out about the relaxed summer dress code in the office. I still fall a fair distance short of it on my best days, but it's nice to be a little closer to respectability without having done anything about it.


MOTHER SUPERIOR: Aye, that's Heiden for ye.
RENTON: He's always been lacking in moral fibre.
MOTHER SUPERIOR: He knows a lot of different kinds of monkeys.
RENTON: That's hardly a substitute.

I first heard about the news a few days ago, and I've been avoiding mentioning it until now, but if this forum is to have any integrity, I have to address controversies, so here goes. The suggestion has been made that it was the sheer force of my will, in the form of several pages worth of updates and epic poems, that suddenly restored Manute Bol to the public consciousness, but I am not proud of the result, which is that Manute will be appearing on the second edition of Celebrity Boxing on FOX at the end of May. I am glad that Manute will get some cash for the appearance, because he has had a rough few years, what with the civil war in his native Sudan, but I am concerned that his opponent, William "The Fridge" Perry, is going to kill him. Manute does not stand a chance. He will break. I know Manute Bol better than he knows himself. Friends have seen me wracked with guilt and attempted to console me by pointing out that as long as The Fridge doesn't get in close, Manute will be fine, because Manute has long arms and superior reach. To that, I can only respond with reference to Street Fighter II. Did anyone ever try to play with Dhalsim, the Indian mystic guy whose arms and legs stretched? Did you pick him as your main guy? No? That's what I thought. He looked like a great idea on paper, but he got killed every time out. Even Zangief, the Russian guy with the mohawk and the fucked up chest hair, could take him. Manute is going to break, and, unwittingly, I delivered him unto his doom.

I have hatched a vague plan involving The Fridge and pork chops, but it probably won't work. I don't even really know what a pork chop looks like.

Jesus. If my intellect had human form, it would be Manute Bol. The man broke his teeth the first time he tried to dunk a basketball. He's seven feet and seven inches tall, and god knows how his teeth got involved in dunking, but they did. Manute Bol is modern man: elongated, tricked by nature itself into these strange parlor games, eternally out of his element, and I have betrayed him. With friends like these, eh, Manute?


It is the first day of a new semester. EDWIN, a young college student, has decided to switch majors, and he is ready to embark upon his new course of study. The path to class is a long and winding one, taking him through corners of the campus where he had never before had a reason to go. Finally, he arrives outside the building.

EDWIN: What a long walk! This is all rather unfamiliar. But I am ready to dedicate myself to my studies.

EDWIN enters the building. Checking a sheet of paper, he notes that the classroom must be a short way down the hall. He arrives at what he supposes must be the right room, and he takes a seat. He is early, because he is a good student, and therefore he is the first person in the room. The TEACHER enters the room shortly thereafter.

EDWIN: Hello. I am here for class.
TEACHER: Good. I like having students.
EDWIN: I plan to work hard.
TEACHER: That is refreshing to my ears.
EDWIN: Will the other students be here soon?
TEACHER: Yes, and then we will get started.

EDWIN fidgets, hoping that class will start soon. He perks up when he hears feet outside and the door to the classroom opening. The other students have arrived. But Edwin is shocked to discover that the other students are trolls, with knives!

EDWIN: (to himself) Shit! I have heard about these guys! They are honor roll students...in stabbing!

The trolls, with knives, take their seats. They are sleepy and bleary-eyed, having stayed up late the night before. They are hardly paying attention as the TEACHER begins to speak.

TEACHER: Good morning, class. I am your teacher. It is my opinion that the Socratic method of teaching is best. Therefore, I will be asking a lot of questions.
EDWIN: (to himself) I am safe for the moment because the trolls, with knives, are sleepy, but if the teacher targets them directly with questions, they will wake up fast, and then it's curtains for me! The only way these trolls, with knives, respond to stimuli is by stabbing everything around them!
TEACHER: The first question is for...
EDWIN: Me! I would like to answer the first question.
TEACHER: Okay. What is the square root of pi, multiplied by the year Admiral Perry's fleet arrived in Japan?
EDWIN: 12?
TEACHER: There is no truth in your answer, Edwin. We will move on to the next question. You, there, in the first row, will you tell me...
EDWIN: I will tell you!
TEACHER: Edwin, you did not know the answer to the last question. What makes you think you will know the answer to this one?

Some of the trolls, with knives, are beginning to stretch and stir.

EDWIN: I want to redeem myself!
TEACHER: Fine. Subtract the weight of a Swingline brand staple from that of a jumbo paper clip, and give an example of a poem that has the same number of syllables as the remaining measure.
EDWIN: (to himself) Shit! Why did I major in such useless knowledge? (out loud) Uh, "Jabberwocky".
TEACHER: Yes, but you left out your unit of measurement, so I cannot accept your answer. Now, I'd like to hear from someone else.
EDWIN: Call on me again!
TEACHER: Edwin, your grade is in the shitter because of your incorrect answers. If you care about your academic career, which may be at its end, you will be silent.
EDWIN: (to himself) This is a fucking quandary! My health...or my academic future? I must decide...
TEACHER: The American educational system is in decline. We will listen to loud techno music.

Awakened by the sudden blast of loud techno music, the startled, cranky trolls, with knives, stab the shit out of everyone in sight.

That will probably be the last appearance of the trolls, with knives, because people have been saying that they are too intense, and the lessons they teach are too horrible. I have enough trouble without a bunch of people protesting my damn webpage.

May 7, 2002 Last Wednesday, standing on the street corner opposite my office, there was a tall, somewhat dirty man in a trench coat shouting "Home entertainment!" and handing out pamphlets. He lost interest as I walked by. That's when I knew that day was fucked.

The rabbi came in to work on Monday over the objections of his wife. Everyone was mad at me because he wouldn't use a wheelchair and insisted on hopping around with his walker. They must have felt I wasn't selling him on the virtues of the wheelchair. It wasn't my fault. I can't talk that guy into anything. He kept telling anyone who'd listen that he broke his leg playing football for the Los Angeles Raiders. I told him that the Raiders weren't in Los Angeles any more, so he switched his story to the New York Giants. By Tuesday, he had careened over to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I guess I do wield some influence.

Anyone who has read this webpage for any length of time will have noticed that I am really only interested in six or seven things, which are duly alternated to create the illusion of a diverse range of subject material. Former XFL star He Hate Me is, of course, one of those things. While most of the nation noticed He Hate Me during the one weekend that anyone took notice of the XFL early last year, laughed, and moved on, I remain committed, like Baudrillard's slightly retarded pool boy, to the notion that He Hate Me represents the key to a vital, unspoken question about American life and cultural materialism. It was an important development when he was signed by an actual professional football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and that turn in the saga has proven to be rife with data; however, it meant that He Hate Me himself, Rod Smart, would no longer be wearing the "He Hate Me" jersey, because real football teams make the players use their actual names as identifiers. (And let me tell you, a hundred pages in the book will be devoted to his identity transition from "He Hate Me" to "Smart".) The mantle has fallen, and it is much like the flag falling on a battlefield, in that, for some damn reason, someone has to go pick the flag back up and wave it around some more. When, as time passed, it became obvious that no one else was going to carry the mantle, I decided to do it myself, and began a long, frustrating search for a He Hate Me jersey to wear around all the time. I have not found that jersey. But the important work continues.

Las Vegas Life: Most Intriguing People 2001 "The league said we could put whatever name we want on the back of our jersey. Right then, I was like, ‘I'm going to do something different.' I said, ‘They hate me, so, He Hate Me. I'll put that on my jersey.' The league didn't approve of it when they first saw it. I guess when they saw the word ‘hate' they thought it was something negative, but I explained to them it was from me and towards the defender, towards anybody against me. When I go out there, my opponent hates me, and if he doesn't, he will, because I will always beat him. So I had to break it down to them."

At the moment, I am angry because we do not have Photoshop on our computers at work, and I want to make old Manute Bol trading cards look like plate drawings from "Rime of the Ancient Mariner". I have all of these important projects, and no one will leave me alone to work on them. It's always Judaism this, Israel that.


RICHARD is sitting in his office. On his desk are pictures of young children, but they are dusty, and they are overshadowed by file folders. It is closing-time. TODD enters.

TODD: Richard, it's closing time.
RICHARD: Not for me. I am going to work.
TODD: But you have finished all of your projects.
RICHARD: Yes, I have. But I am going to get more projects.
TODD: Will you never see your family?
RICHARD: My family can wait. I must impress the bigwigs.
TODD: But the only projects left involve trolls, with knives!
RICHARD: I will do those projects! The bigwigs will be impressed.

TODD exits. RICHARD surveys his desk.

RICHARD: He was right. I am all out of projects. But I will go to the room where I can get some more.

RICHARD rises and goes to the room where there are more projects. It is dark. He turns on the light and closes the door. Inside, there are projects, yes...but there are also trolls, with knives!

RICHARD: Aah! Trolls, with knives!

The trolls, with knives, stab him many times.

RICHARD: Shit! I was wrong to choose professional ambition over family!

He dies. The trolls, with knives, exit stage right.


Charlie was a big city reporter who'd do anything to break a big story, no matter the consequences. But he was about to learn that some stories, especially ones about trolls, with knives, carry a deadly byline...

April 24, 2002 And now, I will attempt to prove that I am for real. Pegleg is still in the hospital and is a bit woozy, but he's recovered to the point where he can generate work for me to do. He got bored pretty quickly in the hospital. I like to imagine him watching "The Price Is Right" like everyone else does while they're in the hospital, but no, he's probably reading the Torah and yukking it up with other rabbis on the phone. So I have work to do.


It is called "Manute Bol Goes To Heaven". I do not think that anyone understands the vast amount of feeling there is for Manute. People are worried about him. They have heard reports that he is in trouble and he is sad now, and this distresses them. They remember how he was very tall, and how it was comical when the Washington Bullets had him stand alongside Muggsy Bogues, the shortest NBA player. They miss him. I am aware of this because I wrote an article about Manute (010725) a few months ago, and several people are referred to my webpage by search engines every week, trying to find out what the big guy is up to these days. I suspect that everyone thinks that they are the only one who remembers the powerful 7'7" shot-blocking machine known as Manute Bol, and perhaps they feel silly for caring about him as much as they do, because they don't realize that everyone else feels the same. Since I can't really do anything to help Manute out of his current predicament, which is really a bad one, I thought that the next best thing would be to write a story where he goes to heaven, which would make people feel better. Unfortunately, since I have to spend time in an office in order to earn money, I will probably never finish the poem. To all potential sugar mommies of the world, then, this is what I say to you:



Manute Bol was then flown
To the sky, where angels dwell
And even a man such as Manute
Seven feet, seven inches
Able to dunk without much effort
Had never been so high
Above the clouds.


Where am I?


But in the heaven,
As in the earth,
Idle minds form
Their devices.


I am the best player
In this heaven'ly basketball league
My team defeats the others
By controlling the offensive glass.
I cannot permit this man entry
He will block all of my shots.


And so, mere seconds
Before Manute arrived
Treachery sprang
Fully-formed from
The head of a saint.


I will lower these pearly gates
I will set their height so low
That Manute will bump his head
When he tries to enter.
Then, he will be stuck
Hanging around outside.




And so his head
Did bump.


This gate is too small.


There is nothing I can do
Divine providence
Has set it such.


Ah, nuts.


Manute did turn
Dejected, away
A man without a home.
He missed Sudan
He missed the NBA
He even missed the USBL.
And so he walked
Through hill and valley
And the surroundings
Became gray.


Now, where am I?


There is a place
Between the extremes
Of punishment
And reward.
It is a place
Of no joy
Only ennui
For the lost souls
Which reside therein.
It is called purgatory.


We who perished in life
Before becoming baptized
Live in this place
Neither here nor there
According to Catholic doctrine.
Our lot is a frustrating one
We are eleven in number
When we play basketball
We are all too short
To provide interior defense
We are much better suited to
Playing point guard.
We always lose
In the afterlife basketball league
Because none of us can rebound
Or block shots.


But even in such a place
We are never abandoned
By the divine, which resides
In the best of all men


Hi, guys. I'm lost.


But thou art wearing
Basketball shoes




Nay, Manute
Thou art not lost
Thou art found!

Does Manute Bol lead the team of babies to victory over St. Peter's team in the afterlife basketball league, thus redeeming their souls? All I'm saying is, oops, I have to write some goddam memo about rabbis now.

July 25, 2001

This webpage receives between 120 and 150 hits a day from people looking for Manute Bol information, so I decided to dedicate an entire entry to the big guy. The introduction to a book entitled Manute Bol For Beginners might read something like this: Manute Bol was the tallest player in the history of the National Basketball Association, standing at 7 feet and 7 inches. He was a shot-blocking machine, mercilessly swatting the hoop dreams of lesser, shorter men. Born in Sudan, Manute Bol was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1985. For ten powerful years, Manute cast a long shadow over the entire NBA. He did not score many points, nor did he pull down an especially large number of rebounds, but he was very tall in an exemplary fashion. Unfortunately, the svelte Manute was easy prey for the new generation of big fat basketball players like Shaquille O'Neal, who countered the big Bol of grace with thuggish pounding. Manute Bol sensed that his time was past, and in 1995, he retired from basketball.

The past, as they say, is prologue. What lay ahead for Manute? That's the question that at least 340 people ask this webpage every day, and until recently, I didn't have the answer. Finally, however, news has surfaced. In association with the Associated Press, this webpage proudly presents:

Manute Bol: the Legend Continues...

(Or: The Part of the Behind The Music Episode Where It All Goes To Shit, Just Before The Part Where They Release A New Album That They Feel Is Their Best Work In Years)

Manute Bol, the NBA record holder for blocked shots in a rookie season, has slipped out of Sudan and is trying to return to America. Bol had been trying for eight months to leave his native Sudan, the scene of an 18-year civil war, but authorities were unsure whether to would allow him to depart. On July 12, Bol and his family showed up at the airport in Khartoum and surprised security officers, who called their superiors for instructions. Two hours later, they allowed him to board a plane for Cairo, Bol said Tuesday from the Egyptian capital in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, his first since slipping out of Sudan. "My eyes got big,'' Bol said. "I couldn't believe it. People were talking that I couldn't get out.''

Now, I cannot stress enough that Manute Bol is a very big man. For example, here is a photo of Wilt Chamberlain. Manute Bol is much, much taller than Wilt Chamberlain. So when Manute Bol says that his eyes got big, we are talking about some fucking huge eyes. Probably two feet tall, each.

Friends in the Hartford area are working to get U.S. visas for Bol, his new wife and 18-month-old son and Bol's younger sister. Three daughters and a son from an earlier marriage live in New Jersey. "I feel bad about the way things have worked out for him,'' said Ed Bona, Bol's cousin and a former European pro basketball player who lives in West Hartford. Bol made millions in his 10 years in the NBA, diverting much of it to his extended family in Sudan and to rebels fighting the government. Since then he has fallen on hard times, forced to sell his two homes while a bank foreclosed on his home in the United States. For now, Bol is stuck in Cairo, dealing with the red tape involved in coming to America. He knows he'll have to return to Sudan if U.S. embassy officials don't issue visas for his family. "I'm depressed,'' Bol said. "I really miss my children and my friends in America.''

When a man of Manute Bol's size is sad, and he starts crying, short people often think that it is raining.

To make matters worse, the airline lost the suitcase with all Bol's clothes. Besides trying to get a visa, he's trying to find clothes big enough to fit him. Bol's journey from the United States and basketball stardom back to life in Sudan was nothing like he expected. During his rookie year with the Washington Bullets in 1985, he had 397 blocks. Bol bounced from Washington to Golden State, Philadelphia and Miami before retiring from the league in 1995. He averaged just 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 points per game during his career. He returned to Sudan hoping to help negotiate an end to the civil war and possibly obtain a government cabinet position.

This part of the article is unfortunately sketchy. I'd love to hear more about that. I'm envisioning Manute showing up in a "Rebels" jersey and trying to block the government's shots.

Arabic Muslims in the northern part of the country run the government. African Christian rebels in the south have been fighting the government since 1983. More than 2 million people have been killed. Bol is a member of the Dinka tribe and is sympathetic to the rebels, who he says he gave nearly $3.5 million over the years. Bol also found himself giving money to many in the Dinka tribe. Soon he was nearly broke. Writers for Sports Illustrated and The New York Times recently chronicled his plight. Bona's brother in London wired Bol the airplane tickets to Cairo. Bona said Bol picked up the tickets at a travel agency in Khartoum on the day of the flight and was able to get passports and visas to Cairo from the agency. He said Bol paid a "gratuity'' to keep the matter quiet. Bona and Andrew Kearns, a West Hartford lawyer who was Bol's roommate at the University of Bridgeport, also have been lobbying to get Bol to the United States and find him a job.

Oh, boy, I can relate. Can I ever! My friends try to find me jobs, too. Do you think Manute Bol and I should go into business together? Write your congressman!

Kearns said he plans to call U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., who helped former University of Connecticut basketball player Ajou Deng leave Sudan in 1997.

Being known as The Man Who Saved Manute Bol would be a great way for that dickhead to redeem himself. He should do it.

Kearns said it was a bit of luck and the element of surprise that helped Bol get out of Sudan.
"He caught them off guard,'' Kearns said. "If they had known ahead of time, they would have canceled the flight or intercepted him. He was actually proud of himself and said, 'You don't know what I had to do to keep this quiet.'"

Manute! Manute! Wily! Wily! Seven feet, seven inches of wily!

Bol said he wasn't sure exactly what kind of visa he will need to get to the United States.
Carolina Walkin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said the easiest option would probably be for Bol to check whether his green card has expired. But Walkin said federal regulations do not make it easy for people in his situation. "There are a number of ways to come back to the U.S., but just saying 'I want to see my children' is not going to do it,' she said. 'It's not that people in the State Department and INS don't have a heart. Everything is laid out by law.''

Heartless bureaucrats, beltway insiders, damn politicians. See, that's part of why Manute Bol is so fucking cool. He's wily and yet he's bewildered. People don't realize that you can be both at the same time, but you can, and he is living proof. Another reason why Manute Bol is cool is that if they tried to make a biographical movie ("Manute!"), and they hired one of the four black actors working in Hollywood right now (preferably Don Cheadle), everyone else in the cast would have to be midgets, to make the size work out. I don't think I have to tell you how cool that would be.

Bol said his first goal is to see his four children in New Jersey. He also said he wants to stay in the United States. "My daughter is mad at me because I've been away for a long time," he said. "I've been away for five years. That's too long.''

Damn right.

See also:

  • A biography?
  • Trading cards!

    I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

    Often discussed:

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