ince 1992, the Z office has been located in Woods Hole, Massachusetts,
a town famous for its oceanographic institutions. Z moved here from Boston
in order for the ageing staff members to enjoy a more relaxed environment
after years of city life and 60-hour work weeks.
When we’re not involved with the excitement of teaching and interacting
with 65 students at our bi-annual Z Media Institute or videoing talks at
World Social Forums and other noteworthy events, we’re doing office work—opening
mail, checking emails, contacting writers, paying bills, answering phones,
proof reading articles, and editing video footage.
It’s not as exciting as planning marches, but it has its moments. For instance,
we have two small parrots to assist us—Zeek and Zaak. They start work around
8:30 AM when they perch on one of our many computers. Their job includes
chewing the rubber off the mouse pad, pulling the keys off the keyboard,
chewing the tops off pens, and chasing down our morning coffee (which they
can’t have). When we print out articles to review for upcoming issues,
they fly over to the laser printer and wait for the paper to come out so
they can wrestle with each piece before shredding it.
At around 10:00 AM they take a break (so we can get things done without
them—as if) and snack on figs, corn, peppers, nuts, chicken, couscous,
noodles, apples, beans, and whatever else we can find.
They return to the Z office in the afternoon with renewed energy to open
the daily mail with frenzied tearing in order to try and eat the glue on
the envelopes. They contribute to phone answering by shrieking in our ears
and chewing the cord, which is very useful when taking phone subscription
and DVD orders, as you can imagine. They assist with check deposits by
unplugging the adding machine after shredding the paper roll into oblivion.
When we’re editing the magazine, they play their invaluable part by wrestling
on top of the copy and wresting pens from our hands. When we’re choosing
graphics, they sit on the files and chew the folders or take a bathroom
break then and there. Occasionally, they will sit quietly on a staff shoulder
or head where we suspect they are developing plans for further destruction—oops,
So, if you notice strange spacing, typos, or mysterious zeros cropping
up in your print magazine, don’t worry. It’s not the FBI or the da Vinci
code, it’s just the Z birds dancing across the keyboard.
Zeek is eight and Zaak is three. They are white, green, yellow, orange,
and black high-energy caiques, a breed of parrot known as the clowns of
the parrot world. (Photos by Lydia Sargent.)