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#a428 :: Undesirable keychain tag

April 20, 2009

At some point last month, my mother-in-law gave my daughter (age 7) a little keyring with a big fob that spelled out “Love” in lurid gold-chromed script. It was schwag from some utterly-too-grownup movie, as evidenced by the little stamped-metal tag proclaiming the brand. Here’s what ensued the moment I laid eyes on it: Me: […]

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#a418 :: Volkswagen badge

April 10, 2009

Found this in the gutter down the street. Somewhere, a VW – a new one, by the make of the silkscreened aluminum – is driving around without an identity. Is the badge the seat of a car’s soul?

Filed under: Adornment, Fetish, Found Object, symbol | Comments (0)

#a406 :: Eleanor Powell’s taps

March 28, 2009

Cement, 6925 Hollywood Boulevard. My oldest great friend, Vinny is in town with his lovely wife, Robin, and we’re doing the tourist thing. Some 71 years ago, Eleanor Powell left behind these words: “To Sid – You’re “taps” with me Eleanor Powell Dec. 23 – 37 And then they helped her sink a pair of […]

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#a403 :: Wooden puzzle

March 25, 2009

Some mysteries we humans hold to be self-evident and unanswerable – except by synthetic, nonscientific means: Consciousness. Identity. Creativity. Beauty. Spirituality. Meaning. Diversity. Freedom. So we make up religions and start cults and set things on fire and paint and write and bloviate and fight and kill and destroy because it’s easier than trying to […]

Filed under: Art, Objet, symbol, Toy | Comments (1)

#a400 :: Black widow

March 22, 2009

This one has been hanging around the handrail on our front steps for a few weeks, always skittering away when I want to photograph and then attempt to kill it. I failed miserably at both, until this past weekend. I don’t feel good about having ended such a magnificent creature, but I decided I’d feel […]

Filed under: Life form, symbol | Comments (3)

#a395 :: Apple stickers

March 17, 2009

These pile up like autumn leaves in any die-hard Mac household. White on white, stuffed into a drawer, swiftly becomes white on blotchy grey because, well, you don’t want to over-use the things. I have one of the larger ones on my car, but I decided that putting a line of smaller ones after it […]

Filed under: Ephemera, Fetish, symbol | Comments (0)

#a393 :: Used car key

March 15, 2009

In all my years on this blog, I’ve never unpacked the symbology of a key. It’s almost so perfect a metaphor on its own, that trying to explain a key pretty much dooms you to being accused of mental masturbation. But a car key is profound. It represents a heavy, expensive and rather large member […]

Filed under: Fetish, Part, symbol, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a392 :: Old Rohrshach pin

March 14, 2009

Twenty-two years after Watchmen changed my psychotopography and appreciation for the nuances of fiction forever, they finally got it completely right. We saw it again this afternoon, and fell even deeper into it than we had at the midnight premiere at the Dome a week earlier. The movie is an extraordinarily accomplished telling of the […]

Filed under: Adornment, Art, Artifact, Ephemera, Fetish, symbol | Comments (2)

#a389 :: Amethyst “crystal”

March 11, 2009

She regards it with suspicion. “Amethyst?” The Chinese shopkeeper nods firmly. “Finest, from Xian province. Xian province. Terra cotta warrior. Xian.” He keeps nodding. She drums her French-tipped nails against its too-glossy sides. She pricks at her fingertips with its perfectly asymmetrical point. She hefts it. Rolls it over in her perfumed hand. Then she […]

Filed under: Artifact, Fetish, Microfiction, Mineral, Objet, symbol | Comments (0)

#a388 :: Chinese traveling hare

March 10, 2009

Where is he going? What is he carrying? Why is he important? Chinese factory workers so beautifully aped the luster of carved coral with cast, burnished and “age”-dusted red plastic resin that I’m left wishing I had the answers to these questions. In lesser hands, he would have been a child’s plaything, a little knicknack […]

Filed under: Ephemera, Fetish, Miniature, symbol, Toy | Comments (0)

#a387 :: Pinballs

March 9, 2009

Thanks to my dear longtime friend, former college classmate and co-conspirator John, I am now in possession of ten of the coolest, most perfect HLOs known to the art of manufacturing. Back in college, John and I poured an absurd amount of time (and hard-earned library wages) into pinball machines. There may have been other […]

Filed under: Fetish, symbol, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (3)

#a386 :: Promotional chalk

March 8, 2009

So, I got to ride bikes last night with Lance Armstrong, who was doing a commemorative group ride down Sunset to launch a big, fund-raising touring art exhibit. They gave out chalk to the 100 t-shirted riders and the other several hundred of us tagalongs, who promptly took to graffiti’ing up the street in a […]

Filed under: Ephemera, symbol, Tool | Comments (0)

#a383 :: Foreign mystery parcel

March 5, 2009

Oh, the wonder and menace of an unopened package from a foreign land. I know exactly what’s inside (I’ll blog it tomorrow) but it’s the promise of what it might contain that always spins me up. It bears all the markers of a Macguffin from a Hitchcock film – the lurid green packing paper, the […]

Filed under: Ephemera, symbol, Tool | Comments (0)

#a380 :: Brass dingus

March 2, 2009

I should be smarter. I should be able to classify and categorize based on Google findings if nothing else. But this one eludes me. Dad sent it along, and it seems to be machine-turned brass from India – maybe even with spiritual or religious symbolic significance. But I’ll be damned if I can figure out […]

Filed under: Art, Ephemera, Fetish, My father's HLOs, symbol | Comments (0)

#a379 :: Las Vegas tiki culture artifact

March 1, 2009

The Aku-Aku Restaurant opened in 1960 inside the much-fabled Stardust Casino in Las Vegas. When the Stardust was imploded in 2007, mob-culture journalist Nick Pileggi called it “the Bellagio of its day, the most dazzling casino out there.” The Aku Aku ran for 20 years.=, a veritable temple of tiki culture (Here’s its appetizer menu). […]

Filed under: Art, Artifact, Ephemera, Facsimile, Fetish, symbol | Comments (0)

#a373 :: Snowshoe hare

February 23, 2009

Two thumbsplats for eyes, slick back his ears, give him an immense tail, and now he’s some sort of steroidal racing bunny-ghost. My daughter’s latest class project calls for a creature endowed with camouflage. She made this – and several others like it – out of Super Sculpey. It’s so pure, I can almost envision […]

Filed under: Art, Miniature, Model, symbol | Comments (0)

#a369 :: Lucky lead pig

February 19, 2009

Once upon a time, his paint was perfect. You can see it on his good side – the bright and chipper eye facing the lucky shamrock dangling from his left jowls – that look that says fortune will smile on us both if you keep me close. Flip to the other side – the stem […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Fetish, Miniature, My father's HLOs, symbol | Comments (0)

#a366 :: Original copper transmission line – Hoover Dam

February 16, 2009

This is almost the holy grail of heavy little objects: a thing with history, patina, functionality, exciting manufacture and moving parts. Jesus, it made me one happy tool-using ape to find this: a chunk of the original copper electrical transmission line installed during construction of the mighty Hoover Dam. For five bucks you get a […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Fetish, Jetsam, Part, symbol, Tool | Comments (2)

#a365 :: Lead type

February 15, 2009

It’s fitting that I mark the end of my second full year of daily obsession on this blog with such an archetypal handful of heavy little objects: I found these samples of a truly lovely display font in an antique shop in rural Arizona earlier this week – artifacts of a dead technology going for […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Jetsam, Objet, symbol, Tool | Comments (2)

#a364 :: Las Vegas thrill tickets

February 14, 2009

I work in this office, in my home. It’s a nice office, in a very nice home, but when you’re in a building 24/7, you develop a deep need to get the hell out before your urge to claw your hair out turns too real. Cabin fever and a three-day weekend conspired to send us […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Jetsam, symbol | Comments (0)

#a353 :: Organiser badge

February 2, 2009

The origins of this piece are dim and inscrutable, but what really matters is this: My father just shipped me two small boxes full of HLOs gathered from around the house, and among them are some real beauties like this: He found this in London a long time ago and gave it to my mother […]

Filed under: Adornment, Ephemera, Found Object, symbol | Comments (0)

#a348 :: Prime Meridian rock candy

January 28, 2009

We lay these arbitrary lattices of meaning over earth and sky, trying to explain the wonder of existence. When industry and science began to catch up to the human need to explain who was where exactly when and how far is here from there, we came up with the notion of time, the 24 hour […]

Filed under: Edible, Ephemera, symbol | Comments (0)

#a341 :: Obama campaign pin

January 21, 2009

I never repeat heavy little objects. I mean, never. My little daily obsession can be a cruel taskmistress, sometimes commanding me to find something cool to post even when nothing cool has come through my life. But like an idiot samurai, I live and die by a code set in motion long ago and over […]

Filed under: Adornment, Artifact, Ephemera, Facsimile, Fetish, Objet, symbol, Tool, weapon | Comments (0)

#a336 :: Railroad date nail

January 15, 2009

According to the Nailhunter, who has a dizzyingly exhaustive collection of these online, workers pounded date nails into railroad ties, bridges and telephone poles to identify and date the structure, sequence and ownership of the structures. You can pick them up at swap meets for a buck or two. This one really appealed to my […]

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#a334 :: Tin advertising whistle

January 14, 2009

Vintage viral marketing, for what may or may not be Captain Black tobacco. Blow through the stem and you get a sweet bosun’s-pipe peep. By the look of the printing, this dates back at least 50 or 60 years, but Googling bears no clear clues to its origins. You gotta love the mascot’s pissed-off expression […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, symbol, Toy | Comments (0)


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