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Posted by on December 16, 2010

It’s been said that civilization is founded upon its causalities; that progress marches on – over a bridge of corpses. Civilized humanity was bred for obedience, but every breeding project has its rejects. Ismailia is the place where they all end up.
It works like this: when a boy is to become a man and a member of his society, he has to pass a test. Maybe he’s got to register for the draft, or go out and kill something dangerous, or walk through a TSA scanner, or hold still while they cut off his foreskin. Whatever the test, it has nothing to do with proving courage, cleanliness or ability to provide. It’s all about whether or not he’ll do what he’s told, no matter how stupid, as long as it’s wrapped up in myths of honor and tradition. If he fails, he’s out of the tribe and he goes to Ismailia. Girls, being more necessary to breeding, don’t usually get either the test or the option, but some still get there by hook or by crook.
Ismailia is the ultimate frontier desert town. On the outskirts, shanties and saloons are knocked together out of architectural salvage, spent missile shells, pieces of downed aircraft. In the center, there’s organization, public works, even massive art projects, all made from recycled junk, as if a vast Burning Man is held there year-round – literally, because everything gets destroyed and needs replacing frequently.
“A Boy And His Dog” was filmed here on location, and Warner Bros. has announced they will do a urban noir remake of Peter Pan using the population as extras.
Four people came walking into Ismailia one evening, from different directions.
The first one clearly did not belong there. Though young and male, he was stern of visage, taut of muscle and disciplined in his stride, and if anyone had checked, they would have seen he was indeed circumcised. He dressed halfway between “soldier” and “monk.” He came in from the North.
The second one just as clearly did belong to Ismailia, or possibly it belonged to him. Wild of hair and eye, jangling with spikes and chains and piercings, wearing enough black leather to upholster downtown Seattle, and so covered with tattoos that they merged, like layers of graffiti, he came in from the South.
The third was a girl, leggy and coltish. She was not pretty, being at an awkward phase of teenage development, but had an engaging disproportion of snub nose and long jaw, and bushy reddish-brown hair. She dressed in gypsy layers of colorful lacy torn skirts. She came from the West.
The final person slouched and ambled his way reluctantly into the city from the East. He was tall and lean and on the far side of a cynical forty. He had a hat, a coat, and a cigarette.

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