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Dork Zygotian Update

Dork Zygotian and his dancing bear

When I first set up this blog, my fondest wish for it was to get Dork Zygotian publishing again. It's taken some doing, but I've had success at last, of a sort. Bob Cohen, Dork's old roommate, managed to track him down and has extracted a few essays from him. Dork steadfastly refuses to deal with computers enough to sign on to TypePad and post for himself, and for reasons I don't understand, I haven't been able to convince Bob to do so, either. So, reminiscent of the old sneaker network of the Budapest Week newsroom, Dork has passed the essays to Bob who has emailed them to me, so I'm posting them here on Dork's behalf.

Above, Bob also kindly passes on a rare photo sighting of the reclusive Zygotian. The photo's a bit grainy (Hungarian film), but I believe that's Dork in the middle, with one of his smuggled animals and one of Bob's old girlfriends.

Below is an essay Bob forwards, giving a general update on Dork. I've made minimal effort to clean up any of Bob's or Dork's spelling, punctuation, etc., as it's part of the authentic charm. If Laura, Eric or Des want to freshen their hands at copy editing, they should feel free.

Just as he has so many times in the past, Rick Bruner recently asked me if there is any way to contact Dork Zygotian. Bruner, saying something about republishing some of Dork's old articles, knew full well that he was digging in dangerous ground. Bruner angled his question so as to avoid any of the personal risk inherent in meeting with the famously volatile Dork Zygotian. As always, Rick dumped the disagreeable job of dealing with Dork in my lap. Some things never change.

Dork Zygotian is a writer, linguist and -- it may now be safely admitted -- international exotic pet smuggler whose weekly columns and feature articles for the seminal 1990s English language weekly Budapest Week were a source of outrage, scandal, and mild amusement among the international community of post communist Hungary. He was also a shady dealer, a creature of the shadow world of post-communist East Europe, a rake and rogue who gave up the writing of bad checks for the writing of Budapest Week columns.

As Zygotian's former editor and ex-roommate, I do occasionally -- and reluctantly -- stay in touch with the irresponsible freelance writer, but mainly our relationship is much the same as it stood a decade ago. Dork owes me money. Having disappeared on one of his frequent and mysterious trips around the far fringes of East Europe, one day Dork will show up on my doorstep and proceed to beg, borrow or steal whatever cash is in my house, drink my liquor, and steal my girlfriends, while his pet monkeys laugh and fling ordure around my house. He makes a few very expensive phone calls, helps himself to a few of my hats, and departs as abruptly as he arrived, always leaving behind huge bills, stubborn bathtub rings, and a manila envelope containing some of his recent screeds.

Although I have always been personally revolted by Dork's domineering, sneering cynicism -- not to mention his disgustingly free way of expressing himself with a Bic lighter and a bowl of bean soup -- it's not easy to break my ties to him. I am related to Dork through my maternal line, in the convoluted Zygotian genealogy that mingles Moldavian Armenian with Gagauz, Hungarian, and Jewish blood.

As those of you who met him in the early 1990s know, Dork Zygotian is a very difficult person to get along with. Dork's world is a virtual rat's warren of odd peccadilloes, paranoid tendencies, and uniquely lax personal hygiene habits. Although frighteningly intelligent (he speaks over seventeen languages fluently and received the Carlson Award for his work on Gagauz syntax) Dork is, it should be pointed out, a royal pain to have around. Alternating bursts of nervous, productive energy with periods of being lazier than a tree sloth, Dork remains a passionate technophobe, a true Luddite who could become physically ill at the mere sight of a modern editorial office. This made it almost impossible for him to maintain a physical presence at the offices of Budapest Week. It also caused him to completely rule out the idea of maintaining any Internet web presence, such as the blog suggested by Rick. To this day, he avoids direct e-mail contact, preferring to hijack my personal e-mail addresses with impunity, often getting me into absurd situations with officials of various nations engaged in the admirable international effort to ban the smuggling of exotic pets.

Working with Dork Zygotian has never been easy. During the time he was submitting pieces to the Hungary Report, Zygotian managed to inspire an anti-Dork Zygotian e-mail list among the Hungarian émigré community of Canada. I remember hearing the name Zygotian denounced by speakers at a right-wing Hungarian nationalist MIEP rally. I still bump into Dork occasionally. He has neither changed nor improved. Dork is still a living feature of the Budapest demi-monde, bumming free drinks while living off the illicit sale of his dwindling stock of pygmy marmosets.

During his last visit to Budapest, Dork left me a few of his old clippings to forward to Rick. Most of them are pretty dated. They were intended as weekly columns and often refer to current events and social conditions that are pretty obscure today. But Rick Bruner asked for them. And when Rick Bruner asks, dollar signs light up in my eyes.

-- Bob Cohen

Just to clarify, Bob, who the hell said anything about dollar signs? Just to be clear, this is a not-for-profit blog. I'll buy you an Unicum and a grilled chicken next time I'm in town.

Here are the newest Dork essays Bob forwards:

Rick E. Bruner | Gen Expat Life Updates, People | Apr 2, 2004 | Comments (56)


Dork Zygotian wrote perhaps my favorite piece of travel writing ever, "Slide Away to the Lard Coast", the amazing story of St. Laszlo. I hope someday to see this charming and fascinating story republished.

conrad | Aug 30, 2004

Some fun loving Magyar actually posted the Saint Laszlo piece (without credit, but who really cares. It ain't Pulitzer material.) on her website: http://www.kinga.com/fun.html

dork | Aug 30, 2004

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