BORN TO KILL FANZINE
“CHEESEBIKE AT SEA — B-SIDES FROM ISSUE 7”
BY: PAT McCARTHY
PHILADELPHIA —> ANTWERP
… Been peddling one dollar grilled cheese sandwiches in NY for years … cooked hot to order off the gasoline-burning stove mounted to the moped’s handlebars, posted rogue on whichever street corner struck my night’s interest. The dream vision has always been to go all-city, to push sandwiches in all the neighborhoods. Cheesebiking never was a lucrative hustle, though it did fully realize itself as a self-sustainable trade. The risks of selling sandwiches –– jail, fire, poison, etc. — never outweighed the ecstasies of living an occupation so rich in adventure and completely sovereign; no manager nor pimp, nor taxman, nor landlord … I stood on my own feet, the bike on hers. I stood amongst neighbors. And they put me to work! Over the seasons thousands of sandwiches passed hands …
Bay Area readers may be familiar with Jack London’s famous, inspiriting creedo: “A boy can live as either a slave or a vagabond …” Well when the Cheesebike is at its best -— those hectic nights when the queue for hot wonderbread-and-kraft-cheese is 20 sandwiches long and the street’s growing loud … –– those nights I would feel closest to marrying London’s duality. A free, working, boy. A toiling-independent, indentured only to the maintenance of the moped and grill.
Aboard the cargo freighter MV Rickmers Tokyo, I, sick as a dog, and the bike, unheroically drained dry of gasoline, sit silent beside each other. Eventually we will reach old world Europe, a land where there are countless sandwiches not yet sold. And there, with the support of the great Delire Gallery of Brussels, the Cheesebike will be given a nouveau home; a home away from myself, away from Brooklyn, and away from this painstaking oceanic crossing that’s befallen us.
The Atlantic is horridly rough, the food’s piss-poor, and (aside the deck crew) the seafaring men I’m trapped with are lock-jawed toughs … For the first time the Bike and I are hustling alone. The sea is not the street, it is not a democratic public space, it is man’s greatest prison. And, as every prisoner must, I adapt; I keep my head down, eat mad cheese sandwiches, “flirt-or-fight” with cellmates, and contemplate the many abyss that rise and fall from the supremacy of the sea.
The photographs assembled here (below) tell an alternative narrative to that recorded in the new Born to Kill: Cheesebike 7 fanzine — the story told on paper is always of a breadth too massive and personal to translate into the format of ‘webzine’ — Here, I hope to present a more candy’d vision, a “postcard tour” of the “good days” during a simple sandwich-boy’s first travels at sea … Please enjoy. And for those interested in the 50 page zine (trade or cheap), write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Merci bien.