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From the Editor's Desk… The Sudsopolis Story
by Pythagoras Fillmore "Beagle" Zzylinski

Not long after the Loma Prieta earthquake, a calamity that would alter this region's cultural landscape in countless unforeseen ways, South Bay entrepreneur Eddie Bob Silberstein had a vision.

I don't mean he had a vision of a user friendly Internet search engine or something like that. I mean he had an actual mystical experience.

To hear Eddie tell it, he boarded a casino bus one crisp Autumn afternoon in Milbrae carrying only a tootbrush, a Daily Racing Form, a pocket-sized notepad and a hip flask. As the setting sun cast a hazy tangerine glow in the skies over Vacaville, he fell into a deep sleep. He came to somewhere east of Placerville, and as the bus lumbered up the Sierras, rumbling and swaying in the darkness and drifting snow, a spirit being appeared to him.

Her hair shone with a blueness like unto the waters off Stateline. She wore fluffy pink bedroom slippers, and her costume jewelry glowed like enchilada sauce under a heat lamp. In her left hand she bore a staff emitting suds of incorruptible cleanliness. From the pocket of her leopard print caftan she extracted a black crayon and a Keno ticket.

So relates the Holy Deposition of Eddie Bob Silberstein to the United States District Court, a text regarded with utmost reverence in the religious tradition that began with Eddie's vision of the mysterious casino junketeer in the garish leisure wear who identified herself to him as the Archangel Mavis.

The Archangel Mavis

The Archangel Mavis

The Archangel Mavis
The Archangel Mavis

Now, before he bought the abandoned scrapyard in San Bruno where he built his church, Eddie already owned a 24-hour donut shop in San Carlos and a laundromat in Belmont, and I suppose he was starting to feel a little over extended.

I was working as the night manager at the donut shop, and Eddie told me if I'd take over the laundromat newsletter for him and vacuum out the lint traps every morning on my way home, he'd give me a new title and a $.75-an-hour raise.

It felt like the opportunity of a lifetime. I'd finished my master's degree in Comparative Literature the Summer before, and at last I seemed to have found some practical application for the vast body of theoretical knowledge I'd absorbed in those long years of study.

Under my leadership, the newsletter evolved into a respected literary journal, and the once sleepy donut shop became a lively salon, where some of the great wits of the day tossed off erudite one liners amid the heady aroma of Vienna Roast and maple glaze.

But life wasn't all bon mots and Bismarks. Every morning at Eddie's laundromat, the fondly remembered Sudsopolis, I faced a stack of vituperative Letters to the Editor calling for the demolition of the historic Sudsopolis sign, which a growing and increasingly vocal army of neighborhood activists deplored as an unsightly nuisance and public health hazard. (The sign, a once grand rotating nephroid that frothed with soap suds on the hour and half hour, attracted pigeons that would scatter with each bubbly eruption. Blinded by the sticky foam and rendered dizzy by their motorized perch, they would fly with alarming regularity into oncoming traffic on El Camino. This unfortunate tendency on the birds' part resulted in unhygenic conditions along the roadway and the occassional multi-vehicle pile up.)

historic Sudsopolis sign

a vanished landmark, Belmont's historic Sudsopolis sign

historic Sudsopolis sign
a vanished landmark, Belmont's historic Sudsopolis sign

Ongoing meddling from the hierarchy at Eddie's burgeoning faith community brought additional frustration. With every publication cycle, I felt increasing pressure to devote my most valuable column space to mawkish inspirational claptrap and heavy handed efforts at evangelization and fund raising.

With the official investigation into Eddie's financial affairs, his indictments on racketeering and mail fraud charges and widespread speculation in the press that he had based his description of the Archangel Mavis on a cashier who worked at a thrift store in Burlingame, my world splattered into unrecognizable tidbits like a disoriented pigeon at the Harbor Boulevard offramp.

Soon after Eddie's sudden, and as yet unexplained, disappearance, an event observed annually by his followers as the Blessed Vaporization of Eddie Bob Silberstein, federal authorities seized the donut shop, the laundromat and all back issues of my newsletter. It seemed that events outside my control had brought my literary career to an abrupt and inglorious end. Moreover, my close and well documented professional association with Eddie would make it impossible for me to find donut related employment. I had become an industry pariah.

The people of this land have a way of shaking off calamity, however. I've uncrated some of the manuscripts that hadn't yet gone to press when the U.S. Marshals stormed Eddie's business empire, and I plan to publish them here at sudsopolis.com, the long awaited online revival of the newsletter that I once served with such hope and fervor.

In the words of the Archangel Mavis, Patroness of Keno, "Even if your numbers never pay off, at least you get a nice trip and some fresh air. Plus they give you a roll of quarters and five bucks off the buffet."

Pythagoras Fillmore "Beagle" Zzylinski
11 jan 2015