Mad Man

Growing up, Mad magazine played a major role in my brain's development. An avid reader, letter writer, and paperback orderer, I can remember times with my mom at the grocery store checkout excitedly putting the newest issue on the conveyor belt and hoping it didn't slip into the crack at the end before the lady could grab it (this is how my dad told me Abraham Lincoln died, except on an escalator), and then making sure it was protected un-crimpedly between boxes of Freakies and Count Chocula, only to be taken out, read aloud, laughed at and folded-in when we got to the car. 
A seminal point in my Mad development came in 5th grade during our class' paper drive, when I found a bundle of old Mads that someone had dropped off to be recycled- older ones, which I'd never seen before! This was also probably also the first time I asked myself, "Why would anyone get rid of this?", a question which would reward/haunt me to this day.
In this bundle, which I asked our teacher if it was okay to not recycle (and somehow I think she said yes but that I should write an IOU to President Carter, or something) there was the single greatest article I'd ever read, written and illustrated by the great Al Jaffee, entitled, "If Kids Designed Their Own Xmas Toys". Seeing it was like a revelation-  one could draw something, and then make it- exactly the same. It was like a ten year-old's mind-blowing "introduction to design".  While in this epiphanal state I packed up all the issues in my French horn case and couldn't wait to get home -even though this meant carrying my French horn out in the open, which made it easy prey for a couple of older girls who liked to grab it, blow into the mouthpiece and then threaten to pee into the bell. 
So, our book is filled with sketches as well as photos, and whenever I drew a project (most projects being based on "why would anyone get rid of this"...), while not using the exact same concept (or at least documenting it that way), the Mad article and Al Jaffee's genius were always somewhere in my mind. So thank you, Al Jaffee. 


Related: Al Jaffee from Graphic NYC, and The New York Times
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Wary Meyers multi-compartmented dresser (in progress), or, What Would Donald Judd Wear?


Inspired by Moshe Safdie's Habitat '67, Donald Judd, backpacks, and cancerous growths on trees. We just needed to decide whether there should be doors or drawers on the added wooden boxes, and unfortunately this indecision kept it from the tight deadlines of Wary Meyers' Tossed & Found, although we did use an unfinished shot as a chapter opening. It's now keeping company with other unfinished projects in our basement, but the plan is to finish it before it gets too cold outside to saw 25 drawers and doors. (We now think drawers up top and doors at the bottom).

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Special de Livre

Wary Meyers' Tossed & Found was mailed out today!
 (for anyone who pre-ordered it). 
Thank you!
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Navy Bean



Speaking of Mainers in World War II, this is a US Navy Officer's Briefcase, made by L.L. Bean for officers who were being trained as navigators to hold their maps, charts, instructions, cotton twine, hemp, etc... Designed by Warnie Bean, L.L.'s son. From his original shop drawings, the sides were "to be printed by the Freeport Press, 1/4" cuts to be made by S. Barker, and notches & marks (lining piece) by us". Zipper by Talon. May 26, 1943. Pin It



Last year Linda and I went to a garage sale up in Falmouth, Maine. The garage was really a newly built barn, with pulleys and hanging canoes and kayaks, snowboards, skis, etc... of a very outdoorsy family. Mixed in with some newer furniture and knick knacks were some old camping equipment and these intricately knotted, awesome, immense macrame rope hangings. The man told me they were made by his late father while at sea as an officer in the Navy during World War II, during the down time, as knot practice. These are the type of beautiful, cool, handmade, one-of-a kind things we love finding, and as much as we would've liked to have kept the pair together, at 20 dollars each, both were unfortunately out of our budget, even for masterpieces of American maritime craft (it was a lean year). So we chose the more intricate one with the three baskets, and drove away, my face symbolically pressed forlornly against the back window. 
Then, as luck would have it, a few weeks ago the same family had another sale, and the other macrame was still there, draped over a canoe, apparently unwanted by anyone but us, and this time for 10 dollars- a nice reward for spending the past year on the widow's walk.
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The things they carried






Never able to pass up an interesting bag at a yard sale, we've accumulated kind of a lot, especially of the canvas/tote variety. Most are kept in the car (ostensibly) to make grocery shopping more fun, and to convince Linda that they're actually useful and we should probably keep buying them, unlike the giant leather gladstone bags she's put the kibosh on.

1. An old heavy canvas workhorse, stencilled "Dennet's Wood-Yard", used for hauling coal way back when, with convenient handles on the bottom for dumping everything out. Soon to be filled with wooden blocks.

2. L.L. Bean zippered duffles. At one time we had about 14 of these, my reasoning being that at some conceivable point years from now, it would be fun to send our conceivable son off on a hypothetical Boy Scout trip and outfit the whole Troop with old Bean duffles, but realistically when that day comes I'm sure he'd rather have a Transformers backpack, or whatever's popular, or at least a normal hands-free backpack (which we also have...), or, ideally, take one of these and and sew Lego: The Movie patches all over it.

3. An old Liddesdale (Scotland) Creel. This was at a stoop sale, and the woman who had it said "Oh I used to use that all the time back when everybody had those!" I didn't ask, but I assumed it was the late 70's Stephanie Powers/William Holden-early Banana Republic-Safari time.

4. Museum of Modern Art bag. Probably from the same time period as above. The leather band goes all the way around, and the stitching has come loose, so it acts interestingly like a canvas totebag in a leather sling.

5. The big bag is an old LL Bean boat-and-tote, watertight for filling with ice or bailing out your sinking ship. This one is from the 60's and stiffened in this shape from years of salt water interaction. In front of it is a neat compartmentalized tote, specifically for going out in risky weather. Like our unpictured collection of "Le Bag"s and old Channel 13 (Herb Lubalin) totes, we're fans of type on bags, and "raincoat" in Hot Dog font was too funny. Lastly a well-worn denim and leather bag made in 1960's Massachusetts.

6. Tracey Emin's "This Way Mice" (there's a cat on the other side) tote bag from the 2007 Venice Biennial, thoughtfully brought back by our friend Fidi.

Finally, a nice article by Zachary Sachs about Dmitri Siegel's enlightening article on Design Observer about the proliferation of canvas tote bags. Here.

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Spider webs and a mooring buoy.
(click to enlarge)

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Wary Meyers' Tossed & Found- back cover

Here's Linda's awesome design for the back cover of Wary Meyers' Tossed & Found, inspired by a combination of Roald Dahl, Let It Bleed, and Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!, featuring the basketball hoop table project (page 66) and a much-scaled-down, gravity-defying, exploded-view of the Chaiseburger project (page 40).

WM'T&F comes out September 1st.
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Useful things on the side of the road

If this were a yard sale we would have bought nearly everything. As it happens, what we did take were the old rubber hose, since our cheap store-bought one popped a few days ago, and you can't beat the fleshy patina on this one, the basket, which, we're not so much into baskets, but this one had been in a fire and looked kind of cool in a Maarten Baas/Maarten Baas' mother way, and it smelled great. 
Not smelling great however was the overflowing plastic bag of damp Fozzie Bear-like sheepskin, but a few weeks hanging outside on the porch and a few bottles of Febreeze should freshen it up. 

Sometimes we're not sure of what to do with any of this, but if we ever need it it's there. Or conversely, we didn't know we needed it until we found it. For example, we didn't know that a perfect Halloween costume would be a ginger Chewbacca sitting in a gold directors chair with his entrails hanging out holding a burned basket of candy. Imagine seeing that when you open the door.

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