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#a199 :: Melted neon tubing

August 31, 2008

The morning after, we bike out to the smoldering embers of the Burn, and we glean for souvenirs. Most prized among us early-Sunday ash-diggers are melted blobs of the Burning Man‘s neon veins. Twelve hours ago, you could still grasp the electrodes of a galvanometric device hookup that measured your pulse and send it up […]

Filed under: Artifact, Fetish, Found Object, Jetsam | Comments (0)

#a198 :: Hell cash

August 30, 2008

In keeping with yesterday’s ode to manufactured gifts, here’s an utterly beautiful hell bank note, designed to follow this year’s BRC theme, The American Dream, that someone gave to my wife. Tonight is the burn. (I’m writing this a few weeks later, to report that a hissing, howling dust storm enveloped the camp for five […]

Filed under: Art, Artifact | Comments (0)

#a197 :: Patch

August 29, 2008

Of all the sorts of trinkets given out at Burning Man, the gorgeously mass-produced ones always grab me a bit harder than the small-run handmade items – probably because I’m a shallow consumer in love with manufactured goods. A guy handed all of us one of these today as we picnicked on the shady second […]

Filed under: Adornment, Art, Artifact | Comments (0)

#a196 :: Krishna card

August 28, 2008

This object’s juxtaposition to yesterday’s is purely coincidental, but thoroughly contextual: Robed Krishnas rove Black Rock City by night en masse – 20 or 40 of them hauling on immense hawsers to tow a tall, spidery carriage with 8-foot-diameter spoked wheels (something like this) that is wired with LEDs and lushly-colored floodlights. Chanting. Continuously. By […]

Filed under: Artifact, symbol, Tool, weapon | Comments (0)

#a195 :: Bible tract

August 27, 2008

Faith is one of those nature versus nurture questions. You either have it by the time you’re an adult, or you don’t. But unless it’s very strong, you’ll find it sorely tested. I was raised a good Catholic by a very good Catholic and an excellent Episcopalian, but wound up walking away from the Church […]

Filed under: Artifact, symbol, Tool, weapon | Comments (0)

#a194 :: Badge of the All-Seeing Eye

August 26, 2008

Our neighbors in Kidsville, Brad and his son, are Burning Man virgins, first-timers wide-eyed and staggered with the general wonder and mess of the thing. But they get it, and they came prepared. You craft your own mythology out here, and you come ready to join in the gift economy, with public artworks, song, theater […]

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a193 :: Kidsville wristband

August 25, 2008

It usually takes 10 hours to drive from Los Angeles to Black Rock City. This trip has been particularly rough: Usually I nap for 3 or 4 hours before we hit the road at 9 p.m., then drive until 3 or 4 a.m., while my wife and the kids sleep. When I’m ready to crap […]

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a192 :: Refrigerator water filter

August 24, 2008

We replaced our fridge a few months back. Then it told us we needed a new one of these. For $36.95, you get a thick block of Lucite wrapped around a double-fistful of charcoal crumbs with a couple of hoses and gaskets on the business end and some helpful instructional pictograms on the “user” end. […]

Filed under: Jetsam, Part | Comments (3)

#a191 :: Metal ant

August 23, 2008

A birthday gift from my aunt. I kid you not. Eight rods of steel, artfully bent, and welded to three metal spheres. Where’s he off to? What’s his business?

Filed under: Art, Facsimile, Model, Objet, Toy | Comments (0)

#a190 :: Pizza protector

August 22, 2008

Inside the box from Hard Times, an itty-bitty thermoplastic table stands, poised to protect our 18-inch half-bacon-half-mushroom-and-black-olives pizza from the combined effects of gravity, pressure and corrugated cardboard. A tiny insurance policy, a finger in the dike, a talisman against doom. Landfill material.

Filed under: Found Object, Jetsam, Tool | Comments (0)

#a189 :: Tattoo needle

August 21, 2008

There’s a certain serenity to getting tattooed. You sit (or lie) back on the chair or table and agree to let someone cause you tremendous pain for several hours and scar you for life. What gets you through the pain is the promise of how marvelous the scar will be. I’ve been waiting months to […]

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

#a188 :: Common spider

August 20, 2008

I cannot tell you its age, genus or class, but I can tell you this specimen of the species arachnida is the fastest spider in Los Angeles

Filed under: Life form, symbol | Comments (0)

#a187 :: iPhone 3G

August 19, 2008

My birthday gift. My wife’s love in a handheld marvel. My new video game platform. My toy. My crack pipe. My next-gen paid-content conduit. My memory bank. My little wallet-suck. My preeeeciousssss. My underestimation of Apple‘s continued brilliance at industrial design. My PDA. My GPS. My portable Thomas Guide. My jukebox. My phone. The blue […]

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

#186 :: “Thunderbird”

August 18, 2008

The decision had cost Daniel. Which is why he was standing here now with this ridiculous knife in his hand. Ankle-deep in all the tools he had yanked from the toolbox and flung to the floor as he rifled fruitlessly for a real weapon. weapons. Both blades out. Ready. Wicked. He tried not to look […]

Filed under: Adornment, Fetish, Objet, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a185 :: Defender Xtreme “Peramedics Pocket Knife”

August 17, 2008

The second in the series of three birthday knives shimmers with the fetishy beauty of orange anodized aluminum. For just $6.75, the Chinese export company will cough up a decently sharp 4-inch drop-point blade wrapped in satiny orange metal and emblazoned with an enamel “peramedics” (sic) emblem. Bonus features – a seat-belt cutter and tetrahedronal […]

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

#a184 :: Maxam “Assisted Opening” Liner Lock Knife

August 16, 2008

Larger image Mom and Dad, being loving, clever parents, took pity upon me after reading about the pocketknife incident. They Googled around and stumbled on, a sort of geek-heaven/tactical-weapons porn shop masquerading as a knife’n’flashlight supplier. For barely $7 you can buy (among other things including Tasers and swords) solid, Chinese-made pocket knives in […]

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

#a184 :: Message fan

August 15, 2008

You can keep your Adobe Photoshop, your diffraction foil, your glitter-gel pens. For my money, mankind’s greatest contribution to democratizing flashy art and entertainment has been the light-emitting diode. This programmable, Chinese-made fan lets you spell out messages that it miraculously traces in the air by spinning eight tiny LEDs at hundreds of RPMs and […]

Filed under: Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a183 :: SuperGlue Future Gel

August 14, 2008

It took me years of accidentally cementing my fingertips together using the old Super Glue before I discovered two things: This stuff was originally designed for closing wounds in triage situations; and Future Gel is much more manageable – it never gooshes in a stream from the tube when you puncture a plug of dried […]

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)

#a182 :: Bluetooth headset

August 13, 2008

Six weeks ago, California law did not require me to wear this while driving and using my cellphone. Five years ago, this sort of gadget did not exist. Fifteen years ago, I counted myself lucky to be using a cellphone the size of a brick – one that had been issued by the Philadelphia Inquirer […]

Filed under: Adornment, Tool | Comments (0)

#a181 :: Handheld laser projector

August 12, 2008

A clear memory: I was 9. We were in the Smithsonian. The room was dark. Someone was demonstrating laser beams. The name, so ineffably cool. L-A-S-E-R. Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Sharp, bright red patterns on the wall. In the future, we’ll all be using lasers. Living rooms and spaceships will look like […]

Filed under: Fetish, Instrument, Toy | Comments (0)

#a180 :: Tiny kaleidoscope

August 11, 2008

A fingerlength of brass tubing, three rectangular slivers of mirror, a thimbleful of tiny glass beads, a translucent end cap and a leather thong. Elegant. Hold it to your eye, face the sun and forget your age. Found in Covent Garden.

Filed under: Objet, Toy | Comments (0)

#a179 :: Finger rocket

August 10, 2008

Tightly-woven strands of super-stiff nylon thread only look like a Chinese finger trap. In fact, if you crush this end-to-end, it compresses, grows fat with potential kinetic energy that – when you suddenly release your fingers – shoots the thing 10 feet across the room. The simplest toys are the best.

Filed under: Toy | Comments (0)

#a178 Gerber Harsey Air Ranger

August 9, 2008

Two odd things about trying to catch up with a “daily” blog that you’ve sorely neglected while traveling like mad is that: a) you’re essentially lying to your users if you don’t admit that things are being backdated; and b) you can’t remember when anything really happened to you, or which objects occurred to you […]

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

#a177 :: Bamboo nose flute

August 8, 2008

Like the Jew’s harp, this elegant little pocket instrument came from Adaptatrap Percussion in Brighton. You press the curved mask against your nose, shape your lips into an O around the bottom shape and exhale nasally. If you cup your tong right, you get a round, easily dopplered note like that of a slide-whistle. I […]

Filed under: Instrument | Comments (0)

#a176 :: Modeling clay

August 7, 2008

Thick cylinders of slick plasticine, pure of color and form. Someone’s gonna mess them up very shortly.

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)