Bavarian Fire Drill
Opening reception Friday 9/12
131 Huntington St.
„That’s what we call a Bavarian Fire Drill,“ Simon explained to Joe. (It was another time; he was driving another Volkswagen. In fact, it was the night of April 23 and they were going to meet Tobias Knight at the UN building.) „It was one official named Winifred who’d been transferred from the Justice Department to a key State Department desk where every bit of evidence passed for evaluation. But the same principles apply everywhere. For instance – we’re half an hour early for the meeting anyhow – I’ll give you an illustration right now.“ They were approaching the corner of Forty-third Street and Third Avenue and Simon had observed that the streetlight was changing to red. As he stopped the car, he opened the door and said to Joe, „Follow me.“
Puzzled, Joe got out as Simon ran to the car behind them, beat on the hood with his hand and shouted „Bavarian Fire Drill! Out!“ He made vigorous but ambiguous motions with his hands and ran to the car next back. Joe saw the first subject look dubiously at his companion and then open the door and get out, obediently trailing behind Simon’s urgent and somber figure.
„Bavarian Fire Drill! Out!“ Simon was already shouting at the third car back.
As Joe trotted along, occasionally adding his own voice to persuade the more dubious drivers, every car gradually emptied and people formed a neat line heading back toward Lexington Avenue. Simon then ducked between two cars and began jogging toward the front of the line at Third Avenue again, shouting to everybody, „Complete circle! Stay in line!“ Obediently, everyone followed in a great circle back to their own cars, reentering from the side opposite to that from which they had left. Simon and Joe climbed back into the VW, the light changed, and they sped ahead.
—The Illuminatus Trilogy