art culture politics music humor love

number 3

Wednesday, May 5, 1999

by Angus Johnston

Stapler, three-hole punch, tape dispenser, printer, magnifying glass from the OED; assorted filing apparatus.

Notes and scraps for Moore project, NSA project, VFW project, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned From Talking Heads” project, incompletes, teaching.

Elvis Presley Birthplace pennant; half hour credit certificate from Olympia, Washington barter collective; photocopy of Kurt Vonnegut short story (“Miss Temptation,” from April 21 1956 Saturday Evening Post, cool portrait of title character); stroboscopic disc for calibrating record players; postcards of Sean Connery, a poured-concrete Stonehenge on the Washington-Oregon border, and a glass of Boddington’s in the shape of a soft ice cream cone.

Photo of young Allen Ginsberg at typewriter; photo of young Georgia O’Keeffe in car; photo of circus family (all from New York Times). Photo of extremely hot, extremely fierce bare-breasted modern dancer (from Village Voice).

1996 French calendar of folk art toys, now used for keeping track of birthdays and anniversaries; Howard Finster Cadillac art; framed sample ballot from South African presidential election; huge map of “Louisiana Purchase and Controversies 1803-1819;” photocopy of two-page Spiegelman-Sendak New Yorker cartoon of the two of them discussing childhood and children’s books; Brancusi article poster.

Allen Ginsberg quote: “So happy to not yet be a corpse.” Blanche Cook quote: “People inevitably, first of all, want to connect with each other.” Piece of cardboard box: “DO NOT DESTROY.”

1930s plaster incense holder in the shape of Buddha; plastic Shriner statuette; plastic General Curtis LeMay statuette; plastic brontosaurus toy; plastic Jeff Goldblum action figure; clay Russian folk art statuette; weird pink plastic monster.

Quartz desk lamp my grandparents owned when they just got married that needs new guts; plaster letter Q; Fenton glass cowboy boot toothpick-holder; photo of self in father’s office at age three; wedding photo of self and lovely bride; trophy naming lovely bride “Most Improved Athlete” on high school tennis team.

Mass-market paperbacks, including (inter alia) Dick Gregory’s Political Primer, three Que Sais-Je-s, about 20 Dover reprints, four ACLU guides to my rights, an old Dr. Spock, a newish Rules of Major League Baseball, three vintage Dorothy Parker collections, assorted sixties political stuff, unread copies of Foucault and The Cross and the Switchblade, and three 1950s dirty novels.

Two miniature replicas of Eiffel Tower; pale green sea urchin-thing from Acadia National Park (not stolen from Park property); “Believe Me — It’s Wet” Porter Paint sign from Mammoth Cave, Kentucky (stolen from Park property); Alabama state flag from research trip to Montgomery; handmade Homer Simpson marionette from Tijuana; baseball from old Durham Bulls ballpark; ice-blue Koziol drinking cup from just-ended Paris trip; crown car air freshener from Jackson, Mississippi; cheap calculator sent by Amsterdam hotel in an attempt to placate us after we complained about honeymoon accommodations; St. Jude statuette from 1993 17,269-mile road trip; rubber crawfish, Louisiana state flag license plate, and Mardi Gras beads from year in Bayou State.

Assorted other gimracks and gewgaws of uncertain provenance, notably a hand-carved nekkid-lady nutcracker.

The most perfect skipping stone the world has ever seen.

Angus Johnston lives in Brooklyn, and can be reached at

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