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Pragmatic Osmosis
By Tania Katan

It didn't matter what Ann said after that because, well, there was no way my twin brother, Paul, was going to be on TV. Like he says: "Television is breeding legions of consumers who are buying into the White Is Right mentality of the Country of Us versus the ghetto of Them." Even if he considered being on TV there was no way he'd support a show whose sole purpose was to pit people against one another in hopes of winning currency and a car. It's everything that he stands against, but I had to give it a try because I needed the money and the thought of having two cars sounded very LA.

I didn't realize that dirt floors existed in first world countries. Paul's house, which I refer to as The House of Sick, but he simply calls, "home," is a squalid two-bedroom commune for wayward hippies and dusty dogs. The smell of patchouli and body odor filled the air. The off-white cushion stuck into the frame of the papasan chair was stained with bong water and other things that were brown and icky. Paul entered the main dirt room, sat on the floor in lotus position, and closed his eyes.

"Hey Paul." I said.

"Hello my sister."

This is not gonna work.

"So I have an idea for us, Paul, it involves transformation and mobilization."

"Right on, Tania."


"It sounds really enlightened." He breathes out.

"It is, see…"

I went on to describe how a team, Paul, and me will work with three mechanics to transform my car into a chariot, a tank, or a boat. Then we have to race against the other team and the winners will take home a new car and $3,000. "So all you have to do is make a videotape stating why you want to be on the show. And have fun with it, talk about how well you and I get along, and send it to Ann. Would you do that for me Paul?"

"Sure, Tania. You know I still have the equipment I borrowed from public access to make my two new shows. I told you about them, right?"

Can I lie if he's doing me a favor? "No, you haven't told me about them."

"Well, there's Feng Shui Guerilla Squatting. It's like Michael Moore meets Trading Spaces. I go into upper middle class people's homes while they're out of town and transform their spaces into a monument devoted to tempeh, Bob Marley and living off the grid. I tie-dye their towels, batik their curtains, you know, man, really open up the space. The second show is The Anarchist Nanny where I…"

"Sounds cool Paul, just make the tape and send it in, Okay?"

"You know what's so cool about us, Tania? That we spooned in the womb. I love you twin."

When Ann called to say that she had received and played both of our tapes, I was overjoyed, "Paul and I are a pretty great team, huh?" I said.

"Did you see your brother's tape before he sent it in?"


"I'm going to send it to you."

"Great, so, are we're gonna be on the show?"


"What? What do you mean?"

"I mean, No."


"There is no way you and your twin will be on Monster Car Makeover."

"What's wrong with me and my twin? We're amazing. We're Apollo and Diana; we're Mary-Kate and Ashley; we're Chang and Eng!"

"You're Freak and Show. I'm finished talking to you now."

"Wait, ah, do you need a writer?" She hung up.

The package arrived early the next morning. I unwrapped the tape, popped it into the VCR and pushed play. It was a close up of my brother, with both sides of his long blond hair braided and a red bandana wrapped around his head. As the camera pans back we see that Paul is sitting in a canoe with a beautiful mountain behind him. The camera pans back further to reveal that he cannot paddle his canoe because he is surrounded by old television sets in disrepair. He carefully gets out of the canoe and walks over to a nearby highway. There too he is confronted with mounds of old TV sets. The camera moves in for a close up on Paul, he sighs. A single tear rolls down his face as he says, "People start reality shows, people can stop them." He extends his first two fingers, creating the peace sign.

With my hand covering my face I pushed stop on the VCR. After the fuzz had cleared there sat Wai Lana. With a wreath of flowers around her head, in half lotus position, she reminded me gently to "Breathe in and out."


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