The Tale of the Most Insane Desk Ever: NO DRAWERS ALLOWED!

There once was a rather famous, if old timey, theatrical agent in New York City who had one hard and steadfast rule in his office: No drawers allowed! This no-drawer mandate mainly had to do with desks, but he also included boxes, trash cans and file cabinets in his rage. The rule was incredibly raw, because in those days, The City, and theatrical agencies, ran on paper. There was no digitization. No cloud or computer storage. You Xeroxed and your Faxed and you managed the wood pulp blizzard as best you could.

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On Winning the 1975 Pinewood Derby

If you’re a Cub Scout, there’s a yearly reckoning waiting for you — the Pinewood Derby — where you get to build your own race car out of wood and plastic and nails and race it down a track to see how fast your mind and hands are in the creation of something separate and spectacular that you cannot control. You build it and let it run away from you.  I had some success with the Pinewood Derby, as I share here:

As a Cub Scout in Lincoln, Nebraska David Boles entered, and won the Pinewood Derby. In 1973, igniting the fighting Fireball #8, he came in second place. In 1974, riding The Phantom, he did not place, likely due to the air-sucking quality of the jaw-like bat mouth. In 1975 — flying the Spirit of ’76 — he won First Place as the Grand Champion, even though race officials drilled out an ounce of golden lead weight from his undercarriage! Here are the requisite beauty shots of those historic racing fascinations.

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Wooden Yoke Treasures from Portugal via Pau

As well as my beautiful fountain, I accumulated some more treasures from Pau which I promised to share.  These are both made of wood, a material I have a great affinity for in all its states. I love trees and what they are crafted into. I love having pieces of history around me and our new house allows me to do just that.

Once again, these are huge, heavy, pieces of wood that were once fully functional equipment in rural Portugal.

In its previous life, this piece was a yoke for oxen who were attached to it and then were used to push – as opposed to pull other equipment around.

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The Nunnery Door

As you know by now, I spent some helping clear out the aged aunts house at Pau.  The upside of this was that I was offered my choice of the goodies on offer — i.e first dibs on the treasure. There was one thing I particularly wanted, and I had the perfect space for it.

The piece looks unassuming — like a tired old door — which it is. In itself, it is an interesting object — showing its history in the layers of paint and the markings where the ornate hinges were once placed. It was recovered by Mr P’s aunt from a derelict nunnery in the south of France.

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Jersey City Janky Pole

Jersey City, New Jersey was founded in 1630.  It’s an old and ancient East Coast metropolis.  Jersey City is also, because of its geological terrain, a city that teeters in the past with no clear way into a stabilized future.  Allow me to explain.  Unlike most modern cities that bury their power lines and cable television lines and other communication cables, Jersey City still hangs all their municipal cabling from telephone poles hoisted along the streets.

The reason for this is simple: Jersey City is built on bedrock.  In order to put the cables in the ground, you’d have to dig up massive boulders.  You don’t dig precise trenches in Jersey City.  You excavate pits.  That Jersey City bedrock is both good and bad.  It’s good because Jersey City is the definition of “rock solid” — the city core is incredibly sturdy — and it’s bad because your city looks like it’s stuck in the 1950’s with all sorts of wires and cables angling above your head every day.  Another problem with telephone poles in your city is that they are made out of wood and they warp while in use and they need to be replaced.  You can’t “bury it, and forget it” like you can with cables.

I’ve lived in Jersey City for over a decade and the first thing that struck me about the city all those years ago was the plethora of what I call — “Janky Poles” — telephone poles that look like they’re about to tip over and break from overuse.  A few days ago, I took a half-hour walk on the streets of Jersey City to memorialize some of the sillier Janky Poles in my neighborhood and here are the best-of-the-worst for your perusal.

The first Janky Pole is the second pole in the distance.  Every time I happen upon that particular  Janky Pole, I always cross the street because I fear if someone sneezes too close to that chunk of wood, the whole thing will come toppling down.

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The Peril of a Mechanical Pencil

The modern world made a sea change when the wood pencil was replaced by a mechanical one — and what was lost in that industrial design exchange was our tether to the land, a sense of impermanence, and a shared yearning for renewable resources.

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