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#364 :: Shaman

February 13, 2005

sildenafil ‘popup’, generic ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>They arrive like smuggled slugs of radioactive metal, encased in sheets of cedar and sheathed in little tubes of machined aluminum. A relative (I shan’t say which) snuck them off a cruise ship and back in through Customs. The tobacco tastes no more extraordinary than the average Dominican blend – woody, rich in the back of the throat. But the frisson of illegality – a mesh of spiteful Cold War trade embargoes slapped on an English-branded product of Cuba – adds layers of flavor and meaning to the experience. I have maybe one cigar every month or two. There is the ritual – moisten the end, slice off the tip, light a match to light the cedar sheet, use it to heat the end of the cigar for precisely 45 seconds (holding it slightly away from your body appraisingly, at approximately the level of your navel) – then you light. A few quick, deep puffs while rotating the cigar end through the flame. Stoked with a puff every minute or two, it will last about an hour. A cigar is a welcome break from painting, a post-dinner respite around a campfire, a warming influence on a cold boat. As the man says, a good cigar is a smoke.
click ‘popup’, sick ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>I am homo sapiens, a tool user.


I feel naked without a blade. Ill-equipped for the day without my pocket knife and PDA. Impotent when faced with a Torx screw that needs budging and a toolbox full of flatheads and Phillipses. I’ve gone through quite a few pocket multitools: the Swiss-Tech Micro-Tech was nice, but the heads were a tad large and it kept unfolding and falling off my keyring. The Swiss-Tech Micro-Plus was better – two sizes of driver heads and a folding design that kept it from opening quite so easily – but I resented the hard profile it held in my pocket since it’s designed to pinch my keyring at a hard right angle and it always managed to dig directly into my hipbone when I was rolling around the family room floor with the kids. Then came the Gerber Multi-Tool which hung around for a good year and a half – a terrific little collection of tools that proved only as good as the fastening mechanism: The pliers-grip grew loose and the thing floated off my keyring somewhere and vanished. I then bought a multitool-and-flashlight set for my son’s birthday and – forbidden to give the “that’s-dangerous-he’ll-hurt-himself!” tool to a 5-year-old boy, I kept it. The Coast Micro-Pliers hung obediently from a jump ring, but they were bulky, balky, crummy-feeling. They had scissors (something I never understood the need for in a tool that already has a knife blade). And they were stiff, almost impossible to open.

There’s no pleasure on earth like the feel of doing a task with a good tool in your hands. The Squirt is a damned good tool, trim, crisp and handsome in anodized blue. I’ve mounted it on a swivel clip so it moves in and out of my pocket easily. The plier handles fold and open on smooth leaf springs, the pliers themselves are spring-loaded and easy to operate. There are two sizes of flathead driver and the Phillips head is actually a modified flathead with a triangular tip rather than the usual thick cross-head. The blade is sharp, there’s a double-sided file, wire cutters, an awl … I am a happy ape.
sildenafil ‘popup’, ampoule ‘width=500, symptoms height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Friends and web-cruisers: This phase of HEAVY LITTLE OBJECTS is drawing to a close. I’ll announce the winner of the Luchador Libre contest in two days – (it’s not too late to enter!)

I can’t say what this site will become, but with tomorrow’s entry – the last of a near-solid year’s worth of daily posts (give or take a hiccup or three) – I’m sad and relieved to be ending a dizzying journey that I began last February when I said:

I collect heavy little things.Tools, parts, toys, instruments, tchotchkes – the weight of some new thing in my hand, often small, metallic and well machined, compels me to add it to my life.

It’s instinct by now. I can’t say why these things are important, or why I haven’t bothered cataloguing them until this day – they almost litter my office, my pockets, my car, my home. But this is as good a place to start as any.

This Dia de los Muertos figure is almost as good a place as any to stop for a while.

When I first set up HEAVY LITTLE OBJECTS, all I wanted was to make a place where I could write and shoot something just for myself every single day. I hadn’t dreamed of gaining an audience, but so many thousands of you have checked in (and a few have even written to me) that I must say I’m glad I chose the Web rather than a little black journal on my bedside table.

I’d like to think that I launched HLO with the spiritual preparation represented by the Deer Dance shaman seen here – I’ll explain him in a minute – but I really began with a “what the fuck, I’ll try this for a while” attitude. It’s been, by turns, fun, grueling, revealing, frustrating and – yep – spiritually rewarding. When next I pick it up – some months (or maybe only weeks or days) after finishing entry #365, it’ll be a new phase of experimentation.

Thanks so much to my friends for encouragement, my folks for muse-like support, my wife and children for inspiration, marvelous objects and fathomless tolerance, and (plug, plug) the Apple company for making a peerless axe.

This has been a raw, giddy adventure – one that’s given me nourishment and fortitude for the next. And so, here’s the penultimate data point – from a Mexican travel site:

The Deer Dance: This dance is central to the pantomimes performed by the Yaquis on all occasions, religious or secular. Originally intended to guarantee success in hunting, it is danced by a close-knit society of men who have spent most of their lives learning their roles.
The “deer,” especially, is portrayed with incredible sensitivity and fidelity. Wearing only an animal headdress, a kilt made of a rebozo and strings of ankle rattles, he moves to the music of flute, drum and rasp. His dramatic death is usually brought about by the “hunters” but he sometimes falls victim to other enemies like the coyote or the jaguar.

Filed under: General | Comments (2)


  1. RedWriter February 14, 2005 @ 12:57 am

    Gonna miss it! Bigtime

  2. Phill February 14, 2005 @ 10:40 am

    i’m sad… especially because i can think of no good mexican wrestler stories…

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