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#105 :: Monster Door

May 25, 2004

nurse capsule ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>This all began as a way of codifying one of my most organic impulses. To hold a thing that is small, has some weight and purpose in the world is to own it, whether it takes up space in my drawer or just in my mind. I have acquired these 100 (so far) objects as a way of fulfilling that need quickly – in the mercurial snatch-it-now breath of the moment I first picked them up – and tried to make sense of them as sort of a test. I don’t know if I have succeeded. I did it to see if I could do it, to see if it would amount to anything. It’s become popular, thanks to Mark at BoingBoing. It has invigorated my drive to write and shoot again, though I’m not sure if it has any deeper meaning. At the very least, I have completed the traditional Japanese artist’s exercise of creating 100 demons in tribute to the Buddhist challenge of defeating 100 demons in a lifetime. If you have followed HLO at all, you have my humblest thanks, and if you want to introduce a friend to it, this entry is as good a place as any to start. In gratitude, I can only offer you this chunk of chain, which I’ve fiddled with for years at my desk. It is considered a deadly weapon, yet the strength, weight, intricacy and integrity of its 6-piece links and the unholy pressure used to force them together as one are taken for granted. You can twirl it like a watchman’s keychain, whip it through the air like a bullroarer, or crush ice in a dishcloth with it when your highball gets low. Put it around your neck and go punk. Dip it in paint and make prints. Hook it up to any number of drive systems and it will work flawlessly, without maintenance, for thousands of hours without a failure. There are few archetypally perfect machines left to invent in the world. This was one of them.
pharm ‘popup’, physician ‘width=500, order height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Fossil tech, the earbone of a giant. Fifty years ago, thousands of operators huddled at thousands of switchboards, plugging and unplugging calls from millions of jacks at the Bell Telephone Company nearest you. The nationwide American Telephone and Telegraph conglomerate was as close as anyone had come to building a nationwide monopoly without inviting antitrust litigation. It wasn’t until the mid-80s that lawsuits from a put-upon public finally brought down mighty Ma Bell and splintered her like an enormous, brittle tree, her branches taking wild, chaotic root in the hundreds of telcos that have sprung up since. Chances are, if you called information back then, the operator was talking on one of these. Like everything else Bell made, it is extremely durable and thanks to the (now missing) wire headstrap, reasonably comfortable. My first six years as a newspaper reporter, I was on this stupid macho head trip, convinced that only obit writers and women wore headsets for interviews, real reporters crunched the phone ‘twixt shoulder and ear while typing and drawling from the side of their mouths, “Uh-huh. Yeah. Yeah. Is that riiiight.” After a lovely bout of crippling neck spasms and trips to the chiropractor, I relented, and began using one of these while at the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to a web site maintained by an antique phone phanatic, this is a telephone supervisor’s headset, model 52BW. It’s fitted with an HC3 receiver, an N1 transmitter, an L4AH cord with a 289B plug, and 29A connecting block. I used it for years, cutting the huge brass double-pronged cord off and splicing in a standard 4-pole modular phone plug so I could use it on the LA Times’ Rolm PBX system (if memory serves) but eventually they phased it out and began using phones with digital jacks that took only shitty Plantronics headsets made of plastic, with staticky, short-prone plugs. I can’t tell you how many interviews I conducted through this thing. But I did stack up every single clipping I ever wrote, and the stack of tiny shreds of newsprint is close to a foot thick.
remedy ‘popup’, find ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>Squirt guns were forbidden in 6th grade. It didn’t stop me from collecting them. I had two favorites – the “secret” gun shaped like brass knuckles cast in plastic that was army-man green (you could make it all the more secret by snapping off the knuckleguard so that the only thing visible was the nozzle peeking up out of your fist); and the “sneaky” model, whcih had a little pivot wheel on the business end that you turned at a 90-degree angle so you could look like you were innocently aiming the gun away from someone until you soaked them point-blank. This month is birthday season among our kid friends, which means an endless parade of goodie-bags into the house, bearing trinkets, gadgets and crap. This one has teeth.
search ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”> Chrome-plating came into vogue as a protective measure, rust-blocker, bulwark against time. Before long, it was appropriated as street armor, fetishized as erotic surface and totemic protection, codified as evil and good and dubbed bling. It is also extremely toxic. Some of the best HLOs are all of the above. This chromed mirror’s head pivots on a double-ball joint and telescopes to 36 inches to extend your view beneath the engine block where you just dropped that vital hexbolt for the fifth time on your fourth attempt to insert it through the goddamned water pump into the motherfucking block just beyond the very edge of your (*SHIT!!!!*) fingertip reach. It also collapses to fit into a coveralls pocket by means of its handy clip.
medical ‘popup’, case ‘width=500, for sale height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Utter destruction and evil in the palm of your hand. What sets this apart from the vast majority of Star Wars toys are its weight and construction. Instead of injection-molded plastic, Kenner cast this thing in hemispheres of pot-metal. The halves are connected through the polar axis via an axle fitted with internal cogs to a fluorescent green disc behind the business end (ray projector, hellmouth, whatever you care to call it). When you turn the hemispheres, the disc spins and flickers, as if it is powering up to wreak tiny havoc on any baseballs or oranges that might be hovering in the cosmic vicinity. It is quite heavy.
viagra ‘popup’, view ‘width=500, health height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>McDonald’s gave these out with Happy Meals. The monsters were unremarkable – nicely built and faithful representations of the Monsters, Inc. characters. The doors, however, carry significant symbolic weight. You could stare into one of them for hours over your espresso and clove cigarettes, contemplating negative space, alternate universes, the depths of the human soul, and the crushing potential of every future second of your life. The second you’re wasting reading this. The one that follows your decision to shut off the computer and go outside. The next second after that. And the next.

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