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#a359 :: Silicone dolphin

February 8, 2009

020809If there’s a story behind this creature, my father will have to supply it.

It arrived in a box of things he offered for photography, and it suggests nothing but a happy life aquatic, swimming through the dust in a drawer and surviving on pencil shavings until he’s required to dance on his tail, chatter and save the day.

Or is it a she?

Filed under: Facsimile, Miniature, My father's HLOs, Objet, Toy | Comments (0)

#a358 :: Palm fragment

February 7, 2009

020609Los Angeles jetsam reminds me daily that I live in a freakish magpie’s nest of a city.

Stolen from aboriginal people by Spanish missionaries who gave huge chunks of it away to soldiers, whose families then sold it off in ever-decreasing slices and slivers, Los Angeles has always been shaped by grabbers, opportunists and self-reinventors.

Angelenos take, procure, manufacture, buy, steal, co-opt, give birth to or create whatever the hell they think they need to move forward … (more…)

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

#a357 :: Rokenbok ball

February 6, 2009

0205091Children’s toys approximate reality.

In the happy world of Rokenbok this is not a huge, filthy boulder shot through with veins of iron and smeared with the engine oil it’s been sitting in in the junkyard where you unearthed it after the glacier dropped it 3.2 million years ago.

It’s just part of a load that you spend idle hours shifting happily from one end of the Action Sorter & Conveyor Set to the other. Scoop up the boulders, dump them in the hopper, watch the little conveyor belt shift and sort them, repeat.

The toy hung around for a good three years after Santa brought it, until its recipient tired of it and moved on to videogaming, elaborate science fiction illustration and (shudder) HTML. I think we eBayed it, but this little rock escaped to remind us of who the boy once was: A sweaty, two-fisted quarry foreman.

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

#a356 :: Plexiglas disc

February 5, 2009

020509This looks like an ice core taken from the frozen surface of a lake the size of a desktop. It’s actually chunk of Plexiglas that Dad sliced off of a 3/4-inch-diameter rod he had kicking around somewhere in the basement.

He was kind enough to mail it to me along with his other HLOs, which I’ll be featuring over the next few days.

Filed under: Jetsam, My father's HLOs | Comments (1)

#a355 :: Paper whale box

February 4, 2009

020409A cunning little paper box limned with cetaceans – cheerful dolphins, a playful sperm whale, a … what could possible be the apt adjective for a narwhal?

From the previously mentioned collection of Dad.

Filed under: Art, Ephemera, My father's HLOs, Tool | Comments (2)

#a354 :: Club flyer

February 3, 2009

020309I picked this up from dozens I found scattered on the sidewalk in downtown L.A. the other day.

I’m not sure which pisses me off more: that someone blew the cash to have flyers for a one-time event printed in four colors and chromekote only to have someone else throw them all over the ground – or that there is actually someone getting paid to spin tracks under the name “DJ Dave Rape.”

What’s next = DJ Knife in the Eye? DJ Festering Syphilis? DJ Republican Dictatorship?

Okay. Now I’m sounding like a crotchety old man.

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

#a353 :: Organiser badge

February 2, 2009

020209The 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 because, as he says rightly, “She is such an organizer.”
A maker’s mark on its pot-metal back says it was made by “I. Marcus & Co. at 145 Hounds (unreadable), London.” The hand-lettered enamel front and the gothic swirls put it solidly in the Victorian age, but Googling bears no fruit.

Anyone care to hazard a guess?

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

#a352 :: Gas tap wrench

February 1, 2009

020109California’s lousy with ornamental gas fixtures – realistic-looking cement fireplace logs, tiki torches, and what we have behind our house – an artifact of the previous owners, who were rock promoters – outdoor firepits. We lost the key the other day and I replaced it, not entirely sure I had measured accurately. I love the mirror-like finish that the (plasma-?) cutter left on the inside diameter.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a351 :: Crayfish leg

January 31, 2009

0131a09A casualty from my son’s former 3rd grade classroom:

“He got his leg torn off while we were washing the tank. It was in the sink, so I saved it for you.”

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a350 :: White crayon

January 30, 2009

013109The prismatic color, the all-color, the core frequency, the heavy-ass symbolic color, the path to scientific truth. This is the white Crayola you find in the crayon box, little scabs of colored wax accreting on its dingy-grey paper sheath. Waxy potential ready to expose the hidden highlights on a page.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a349 :: Nerf dart

January 29, 2009

013009About $5.99 a packet. Styrofoam tubes capped at one end with Velcro, the better to hit an opponent’s target vest for consistent scoring.

Apparently our society isn’t raising our kids to think creatively about reaching mutual settlements.

The feud wants guns, the feud shall have guns. It was ever thus, even reaching back to massive snow forts, stockpiles of snowballs and total mutual assured destruction at age 9.

The good news is theyr’e harmless, nontoxic and non-fatal, even when used like this.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a348 :: Prime Meridian rock candy

January 28, 2009

012809We 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 clock and the system of navigation still used today.

For earthly reckoning, it all boils down to what happens with the sun in reference to a hairs-breadth line slicing the planetary map from the north pole to the south: the Prime Meridian. (more…)

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

#a347 :: Eraser

January 27, 2009

012709This rode home in a goodie bag from a birthday party at my son’s school.

I love the millefiore design aesthetic, which makes me wonder if mistakes vanish more easily when rubbed with yellow rubber or blue.

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

#a346 :: Rotring Core ballpoint

January 26, 2009

012609It used to be Bic Stics, Bic ballpoints, the occasional Shaeffer Bros. throwaway or oddball Pentel gel-tip – whatever. Whatever the newspaper clerks stocked the supply closet with – that’s how I wrote. Tools didn’t matter. The work did.

Once I moved out of dead trees and into the trackless wastes of the interwebs, I decided it was okay to buy a pen with a little more flair. So I began picking up heavier implements – Watermans, Rotrings, obscure French-made pens of anodized aluminum.

Now, I like to stick with a good multi-pen – black/red/.7mmlead/PDA – the sort of Swiss-Army-knife mentality.

But every now and then I pick up something just for fun, and this thing – with its steroidal profile, spring-metal loop clip, stenciled-aluminum pushbutton and excessive rubber knurlies – is hugely entertaining to write with.

Sadly, Rotring is said to have gone out of business, but you can still find their excellent stuff on eBay at pretty reasonable prices. I found this one for about eight bucks.

Every time I use it, I expect its original android owner to melt down my office door and demand it back.

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

#a345 :: Kershaw pocketknife

January 25, 2009

012509My old Kershaw.

I carried it 12 years ago, then laid it down three or four years later after the liner lock quit holding the blade stiff, and the rubber in the handles began to degrade.

It’s still an elegant little tool and feels wonderful to open. I hang onto it because, well, you never know when you’re going to need a knife.

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

#a344 :: Chrome-plastic miniature cutlery

January 24, 2009

0124091This nation has bought into the culture of preciousness from the very first needlepoint sampler of the earliest Don’t Tread on Me flag.

We can’t say we invented it- I think we can thank the Egyptians or the first culture that ever created chubby little fertility-goddess fetishes for that.

But the U.S. has a by-God pride of ownership in kitsch-oozing preciousness. The way we wear our hair, the creature comforts we advertise in Christmas ads, the mints on the pilllows in hotels and the silk bows we tie on our domesticated poodle-shaped animal friends.

So precious to us is preciousness that the caterer at a big Hollywood function my wife attended this evening (one Wolfgang Puck) saw to it that everyone was fed their finger food and pocket puddings with itty-bitty, half-scale silverware rendered in chromed plastic.

Unsustainable, landfill-bound straight-up manufactured trash. By the thousands.

Again – when we look at the toxins we bring upon our own land for the sake of a few seconds’ worth of enjoyment – we really should draw a sharp breath and pause …

Filed under: Adornment, Ephemera, Facsimile, Jetsam, Miniature, Tool | Comments (2)

#a343 :: Chinese ink pot

January 23, 2009

012309This tin of oil-based printing ink has not changed since I bought it (counting on his fingers) nearly 15 years ago on my honeymoon in Beijing.

Intended to be art supplies for some project that hasn’t yet materialized, it’s been sitting at the bottom of a drawer, waiting to be used.

The stuff takes forever to dry out. I’m tempted to cover it and leave it untouched for another 15 years, as a sort of ongoing talisman against adversity.

Filed under: Ephemera, Tool | Comments (0)

#a342 :: Sony-Ericsson Bluetooth headset

January 22, 2009

012209This stuff just sort of stacks up, doesn’t it.

Old hardware: power adapters, obsolete cellphones, underequipped storage devices – eclipsed technology.

This headset is actually still operational and could be working today – if only I hadn’t snapped the earhook off it at some point.

Dead tech.

Filed under: Jetsam, Tool | Comments (0)

#a341 :: Obama campaign pin

January 21, 2009

ENLARGEI 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 which I (choose to) have no control.

However, rules are meant to be questioned and this object – like grizzlies in a cloning lab – bears repeating:

No punditry, no anecdotes, no pontification can outweigh, outrun or outlast this fact: We put two decent men into the White House today.

We ended the longest, ugliest domestically-generated reign of terror since the Red Scare of the 50s or, arguably, the Civil War.

And we bought this once-great nation a little extra time, and a chance to become great again, before darkness could swallow us all.

Onward. And upward. Together.

Someone is reminding us how great America can be, because we all know deep in our marrow, how great Americans can be when they embrace their diversity and work together for a common good.

We should listen. And act as one. Because we know it’s better than continuing to destroy each other with words, and the nation with ideological conflict that matters far less than every liberty, right and joy we’ve allowed the past eight years to piss away.

So let’s go.

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

#a340 :: Potato gun ammo

January 19, 2009

011909Here’s the other end of this equation – a fine brown potato, now pocked with the wounds of a thousand battles … well, not really.

This is simply what it looks like when your son swipes your Christmas present and gets crazy with a hapless spud … the potato’s a couple of ounces lighter, there are nasty cylindrical potato-pellets all over the house and you’re both laughing and trading the fun off to shoot each other because it’s such stupid fun.

Filed under: Life form, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a339 :: Potato Gun

January 18, 2009

011809I scoffed at these things, which used to appear alongside ads for X-ray spectacles, sea monkeys and GRIT on the backs of Marvel comics when I was a kid.

Potato gun. Hah. My friend Phil has a BB gun that he once used to nail the pillar on a house nearly a block away once, only he managed to shatter the family’s front window … but thats another story.

This appeared in my Christmas stocking last month courtesy of Santa Wife, who knows the buttered side of my bread quite well: Sturdy blowmolded thermoplastic – a simple mechanism made of two parts – a red barrel/trigger assembly mounted tightly to a black receiver with a good, stiff spring.

It shouldn’t work at all, really.

But just shove the muzzle into a raw potato, tearing off a bit of ammo as you withdraw it and you have the power to nail someone30 feet away with a tiny cylinder of potato that leaves the gun with a sharp *Plick*, and leaves your mouth with a stupid 10-year-old’s grin.

Filed under: Ephemera, Facsimile, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a338 :: Pocket ballerina

January 17, 2009

011709There’s a thick magnet in the base of the mirror, two smaller ones with their poles pointed counterclockwise to each other in her base.

Push the mirror towards her, she pirouettes away.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a337 :: Shot glass

January 16, 2009

011609One of my very favorite shot glasses. A rippled chunk of reconstituted sand.

It speaks of either Art Deco speakeasies or 80s big-shoulderpads meat-market bars – I can’t decide which.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a336 :: Railroad date nail

January 15, 2009

011509According 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 sense of symmetry and my magpie obsession with shiny little bits of metal

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

#a335 :: Stereopticon view – Looking through the Great Forth Bridge

January 15, 2009

ENLARGEI have a thing for stereo cards – particularly views of the industrial age.

Stereopticons were the pinnacle of multimedia technology in their day – twin images shot simultaneously by cameras set a few feet apart, approximating the 3-D view seen by the human eyes.

With the gentleman beckoning at the right, you could almost fall into this one, it’s so gorgeously intricate. I found it at the Rose Bowl swap meet for three bucks, in perfect shape: the stiff card is a little curved, and you can see silver glinting back from the blacks.

Here’s what the Underwood and Underwood Works and Studios had to say about it: (more…)

Filed under: General | Comments (0)