Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dishwasher Pete's heyday

One my favorite underground heroes has gone mainstream. Pete Jordan, a.k.a. Dishwasher Pete, published a book about his quest to wash dishes in all 50 states, Dishwasher. Last week he went on a publicity tour to promote the book, including a stop in Chicago. The man who purposely eluded major media exposure for so many years is now signing autographs and posing for photos.

I am almost finished reading the book. I went into the reading a bit apprehensive, worried that it would be a horribly-embellished re-hash of some of the stories from his 'zine that I read already online. And while there is a little of that, there is also enough fresh material to keep it interesting. Pete does his research and outlines a kind of armchair history of labor, famous dishwashers (including Presidents Reagan and Ford, and Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh), and dishwasher references in literature and popular culture.

But what I like most is the story of Pete. He is a kindred spirit in many ways -- a map fiend, frugalist, avid walker, coin spotter, rebel and, sometimes, raconteur. His unabashedly slacker ways don't quite jibe with my work ethic, but he chooses to live his own way by his own rules. And he lives a non-materialistic lifestyle that allows such freedom.

I recommend the book. It's a breezy, fun, summery read, but it's also a story that should make those with mixed up values about status and owning things take notice.

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