Paul Knobloch is a language teacher and literary translator. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from U.C. Irvine, Paul pursued a second Bachelor’s and M.A. degree in French from CSU Long Beach. He received a teaching certificate in TESOL and has taught at university level, community college, and in intensive English programs for some 15 years. Among other projects, Paul has translated the noir fiction of French polymath Boris Vian. He has done important work bringing the lesser known fiction of Vian to the attention of English-speaking audiences. His own writing is somewhat like Vian’s in its edginess and slick explorations of the soulless fringes of culture and society. I have worked alongside him at the English Language Program for quite a few years, but was startled to read what he has in him and what comes out. The middle of the afternoon in a dark bar of Old Pasadena: this is the perfect time and place for us to listen to what’s on Paul’s mind.
My first roommate in this frozen metropolis was Chantal, a very laid back and thoroughly pleasant fortyish female who had been sucked dry by the excesses involved in growing up during Quebec’s FLQ-René Lévesque-separatist years, a short window of leftist awakening before the Parti Québecois turned nationalist and quasi-racist. Chantal dealt pot to half the island and she would hole up in her bedroom for days on end doing blow with her cokehead boyfriend, the two of them chattering right through dawn’s early light. Her bedroom was to my immediate right, and to my left was a sort of sitting room, no more than six feet by six feet, which she rented out to Ghislaine, a prostitute who would get up every morning and hack out a staggering quantity of indigestible and amorphous phlegm from her lungs into the toilet after staying up all night and smoking cocaine in every conceivable manner with a host of frighteningly decrepit middle-aged businessmen that would stagger from her lair with their protruding, bloodshot eyeballs threatening to explode from their very orbits. I didn’t spend a lot of time there because those two chambers on either side of my room functioned like the speakers in a schizophrenic’s headset.
First published in American Ethnography
Paul Knobloch was a Featured Poet who read his poetry at the June 2012 Second Sunday Poetry Series