In 1923 a huge iceberg drifted into the Baltic sea and ran aground off the German port of Lübeck. The strength of the polar easterlies that year caused a number of bergs to drift unusually far south on the Spitsbergen current. Sea ice was seen in Bergen and parts of northern Scotland. Some German scientists postulated that the heat from factory smoke may have caused abnormally high break up of the arctic ice pack. The burghers of Lübeck declared the iceberg to be a free trade area under the name “Eisbergfreistadt” (Iceberg Free State). It was hoped that the iceberg might become an offshore banking haven. At the same time, Eisbergfreistadt became a major source of fascination to the utopian movement known as the Crystal Chain. The group was fascinated with the architectural possibilities inherent in crystalline structures and glass. When the giant iceberg washed ashore, the group seized upon it, designing utopian cities made of ice and issuing manifestos on behalf of its imaginary socialist government in absentia. A large masked ball was held on the iceberg in the autumn. Many attendees came dressed as polar animals and explorers, although a contingent led by the Crystal Chain’s Wenzel Hablik arrived dressed as pigs and rats. Unfortunately, the combined weight of the revelers caused the berg to split into two pieces. One of these eventually collapsed and melted, causing considerable damage to Lübeck’s industrial zone; the other drifted back out into the Baltic, where it was swept back to the arctic by the Norwegian current. And so it came to pass, on the day of the so-called Rapture, I was walking across Bleeker Street and decided to call Robert Frank. He had never answered my calls before. But he picked up and said come now because tomorrow I’m leaving for Nova Scotia … and so I rang the bell, accompanied by my friend K.D., and he told me, as June sat beside him on the couch, which his favorite images from The Americans was … They stop for gas. Misha and Grisha take Maxine around to the back of the ZiL, open the trunk. Something long, cylindrical, flanges with bolts, projections that look electrical … “Nice, which end are you supposed to inhale out of – Oh, shit, wait! I know what this is! I saw this in Reg’s movie! It’s one of those vircators, isn’t it … Equally troubling is Bartlebooth’s death: he is in the middle of his 439th puzzle, nearly blind, sitting before a hole shaped like an X and holding in his hand a piece shaped like a W. Besides the Coke sign, I now could see what looked like a giant peanut rotating as it went, resembling for all the world to see a ballet danseur in pirouette but still moving in a straight line and coming towards us. I wheeled around myself and realized the peanut was headed right for my father, who was still deep in contemplation. I shouted, “Look out! Dad a peanut’s gonna get ya!” He turned in the direction of my most familiar voice and asked “Wot the hell are you say …” Wham! The two bodies collide, one soft and pliable, one hard and brittle. They both went down to the sidewalk like two interesting conga lines. An extremely amused crowd had gathered, [and] the peanut was the first to be helped up by several people because of the bulk and awkwardness of the costume. Someone offered his hand to my father but he refused it [which was not unusual, he just got off, brushed himself off, grabbed my hand and prepared to leave as swiftly as possible when a cavernous voice from behind implored: “Wait! Do you know who I am?” and without bothering to wait for an answer, the voice continued: “I’m Mr Peanut – the spirit of Planter’s Peanuts.” Catching up with us as my father began literally dragging me around the corner onto 42nd Street so we would be headed toward 8th Avenue, Mr Peanut added, “Wouldn’t you like a free sample?” “No thank you,” said my father in feigned politeness [I was shocked, next to oysters, he liked peanuts best].
[Note: For Omo Bob. Sources: “Eisbergfreistadt”, at Hammer Gallery (“Eisbergfreistadt” is a project by Nicholas Miles Kahn & Richard Selesnick); Jason Eskenazi, By the Glow of the Jukebox: The Americans List; Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice; Daniel Levin Becker, Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature; Paul Lafolley, “The Bahauroque”, in Premonitions of the Bahauroque]