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#a1 :: Bodywork dolly

February 15, 2008

sildenafil this ‘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”>Here are some of the posts I had the most fun writing and/or shooting.If you like any of them, maybe you’ll email one to a friend who might enjoy it, too. And if you just discovered this site, any of these is a good place to jump in:
Rubber Ghoul
Drain Valve/Bell
Photo-Theremin
Saab Front Wheel Bearings
Nuclear Bomb Test Souvenir
Monocular
Battle Suit
Daguerrotype
Brownie Hawkeye
Vinyl Frog
Lightcycle
Minnie Ball
Spoke Wrench
Art Deco Reading Lamp
Spiky Silicone Keychain
Fuckin’ Wirenuts
Tiara
Doll Leg
Shalom Bracelet
Gunslinger
Last Resort
Novelty Lighter
3 Red Demons in a Little Rowboat
Fortune Cookie
Wallpaper Print Block

Welcome newcomers: For clarity, I have swapped this post’s halves from its originally posted state. Note also that I’m running around cleaning up some bad internal links – a legacy from when I switched to WordPress at the end of the 2004-2005 run … mr …12/16/08

The old man lived in a small trailer park in one of the Carolinas, by a huge stand of bamboo. He sat beneath the awning of the old Airstream with his second wife. I don’t remember her saying much. But I remember him bouncing me on his knee, asking questions, listening with that sort of benevolent, distant warmth that I came to know ever so briefly as grandfatherly.

We had ridden in Frog Belly, our beaten third-hand two-tone Ford (?) for so many hours to get there. Down from the little Connecticut college where my father taught and would later turn to glorious painting, where my mother wrote like a weaver, with focus and care. That evening, after lemonade and maybe it was fried chicken, I lay in the motel room nearby, all of six or seven years old. Night heat smothered any chance at sleep, which was already elusive, thanks to the rock’n’roll band blaring from a stage beneath bright lights in the field next door. Insects keened outside, the cicadas out in force on their once-every-17-year cycle of birth, sex and death.

The next morning, we went back over to the trailer for breakfast. And my father’s father took us out to the bamboo afterwards, where he cut chunks from a stalk and fashioned it into a little two-piece slide whistle that he gave to me. I wish I had kept it. I can’t even remember what became of it – I must have left it behind because the aching memory puts it only and fully in that place, no other. Just there, blowing the bamboo mouthpiece and sliding it up and down the octaves – and then it was gone.

Joseph Wayne Reed Sr. was my father’s father – a medical corpsman in WWI and a Red Cross medic in the Pacific in WWII, a Linotype operator for the St. Petersburg Times in his later years. Heart disease killed him – I remember, he was overweight and not too athletic – when I was eight.

Four years later, my father gave me his ring – white gold and onyx. I have worn it every single day of my life since then. Dad had the stone flipped over to hide what must have been a lifetime of chips and scars, and new gold added to the bottom where abuse and wear had ground it down to the thickness of a kite string.

Once in 1984, body-surfing high at Misquamicut, Rhode Island, I thought I had lost it to the sea. The empty-handed sensation of realizing this was a head-to-toe shock that overpowered the full-body battery of cold October breakers and left me feeling naked, careless and stupid. At this point in my life, my young journalism career seemed to have fallen apart and I was casting about for some sense of direction. So I bounced on tiptoes in the surf as my mother had taught me there long ago, and tried to absorb the loss of the ring as an omen – a clean break, a fresh start, a way out to new thinking. Weak, I thought. Fuckup. I dragged myself back to the parking lot to towel off in abject depression, which shattered in a paroxysm of joy only when I realized that I had sensibly stashed the ring in the glovebox of Steve’s Celica before jumping into the ocean.

I nearly lost the ring again 20 years later. A brain-crushingly bad week at work sent me home in a funk, and drumming seemed the only way to shake it off. Pounding out amateurish polyrhythms and 2/4 tribal stomps at full volume in the empty house, I pummeled the shit out of my kids’ tubano until my arms tingled. Then I looked down and saw that not only had the circle of white gold cracked, but the stone had disappeared and the empty prongs gaped up at me in blinded reproach. After five solid minutes of knees-and-fingertips searching through the pile of the thick Oriental rug around the drum area, I found the small, black stone, and resumed breathing. Our local jeweler set things right, and my arm is complete again.

My wife says she considers this the ultimate Heavy Little Object – it’s not the sort of archetypal machined steel gizmo upon which I first focused this site. But it is of stone and precious metal, and freighted with meaning and worth beyond the reach of my words. It’s part of me, and a good place to stop – maybe so I can devote a bit more time to my other blog – and think about where I’m headed next.


This site is dedicated to my parents.The contest results are here.

ENLARGEThe British Natural History Museum did something extraordinary on the grounds outside its magnificent building – a diversion from the ossified remains of dinosaurs and sloths and the over-loved “interactive” displays of swimming hippos and oversized scorpions:

They built a hothouse, adiposity filled it with plants, and started cultivating butterflies.

These were just two of the fantastic array of insect ephemera on display in Amazing Butterflies which closes, sadly, on Aug. 17.

If you’re in town, whether you have kids or not, go have a look
dolly2.jpgI’ve missed this blog. Hello, this web old friend.

This black lump of cast iron could be any number of things: A chunk of railroad tie fashioned into a doorstop, approved (or so claimed the antique store owner in Cutchogue, Long Island who sold it to me for 9 bucks over Christmas). An anchor for wayward blueprints on windswept building sites, perhaps. An “equalizer” stuffed into the boxing glove of an outmatched pug.

Instead it’s a simple tool: Hold it behind the car-body panel you’re undenting. Smack the panel’s outside with a hammer. Hammer, meet anvil – rock the dolly back and forth a bit as you taptaptaptap the steel – and eventually the dent is shallow enough that you can cover the rest of the blemish with Bondo. That’s what I did with Steve’s car.

The backstory on all this?

Four years and eight days ago, I declared a purpose for Heavy Little Objects:

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 […]

Three years ago to the day, I signed off, after spending an entire year posting one heavy little object per day, every day.

I launched it in homage to the 100 demons exercise that Japanese tradition once demanded of a painter: Buddhism says one must overcome 100 demons in a lifetime – so I took care of 3.65 lifetimes of them, and learned some things along the way:

  • A blog can be art
  • Blogging daily frees you of the need to make anything very serious on a regular basis, yet somehow adds up to a work of a certain value and weight
  • Maintaining an absolutely-every-day-without-fail blog – especially while maintaining another blog – is like swimming in an endless pool with a sackful of bowling balls in your teeth.

But I’ve missed this – writing, shooting, corresponding with the small, warm band of fellow eccentrics who used to follow this daily indexing of obsessions.

So here goes again.

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