Thursday, July 2, 2015


Words suffixed with -punk: (back formation from cyberpunk) a fictional or aesthetic genre based upon the noun to which it is suffixed

The smell of cut pine makes me nostalgic and reminds me of working in my Dad's garage. So allow me to regress a little bit, literally, and ramble my way through late childhood/early adolescence - prior to the plastic model-making/rocketry/masturbation stage. 

We had a one-car garage, which seeing as it was a one bay situation, had room for a work bench and little else. There was no room for equipment such as a table saw or similar, and so almost every construction project was done with hand tools, or powered hand tools. Seeing as my great-grandfather was a cabinet maker, we had some kick-ass traditional hand tools. 

Anyway, my father would get on these household projects involving 2x4s and plywood, and he preferred screw fasteners over nails. I suppose that comes from being a Navy guy. 

Being a Navy guy, knowing that horizontal surfaces are crap magnets that hold dangerously unsecured sharp and heavy things ready to roll about and drop, my father covered every available vertical surface with pegboard, or hooks and holders. 

(Not that our house experienced much in the way of heavy seas, but still...) 

Clearly the Old Man had imparted his knowledge of tools and tool management (tool usage, fellow babies, is for Homo erectus types) upon us all, seeing as, going with military pragmatism, there was always a chance, slim though it be, that he could get shot in the head or similar such circumstance, and then what good was all that knowledge locked up within that now useless paternal unit skull?

And so we were thoroughly vetted in all the manly arts of both additive and subtractive  manipulations of material instrumentality, making me pretty much ready, willing and able once the building stage of life commenced. Partial credit goes also to my oldest brother, who at about the same time took up the habit of amateur rocketry, and probably the accompanying habit of masturbation.

And suddenly a new material was made available called balsa wood. I fucking loved the stuff as, unlike gummy pine, it was super easy to work with. Better still, the old man purchased a disc/ribbon sander that barely fit one end of the work bench, and a jigsaw. He never use either as far as I know. But I got my fair use out of 'em. (I have a fond winter memory of standing in melted and sloughed off black slush from the station wagon, wedged into the foot of free space between the car and the work bench, fingers slowing going numb as I worked on one goofy after another).

I should point out that none of the things I made had any real or practical value. Even then I was making shit on the fly, whatever accidental shape or arrangement of shapes caught my fancy. 

Shapes. Platonic solids. At the time, the early 70s, I was exposed to Buckminster Fuller, and started making geodesics out of paper and balsa wood. I also found an obscure cut-out book on Pavlita generators, psychotronic twirlers, cone-shaped paper objects that you suspended from strings, and they would rotate when you stared at them. So, I really enjoyed spheres, and ellipsoids, cones, helixes, and the laminated cooling fins on motors and pistons, whatever that's called. I found taping together truncated cones end to end gave me a cylindrical camera bellows, a shape I which I still enjoy. And, once I tired of them, would burn them, or blow them up 

(I would on occasion use the tools for their intended purpose, try to make some weird unconventional rockets, which my father ended up calling 'trench warfare' weapons).

So, the aesthetic involved bore a slight resemblance to things under the steampunk genre, but not. To most people I suppose that's what you would call it, but my tastes tended more towards more primitive technologies. Alembics, retorts, crucibles, the tools of alchemy. You could really throw my stuff under the alchemypunk aesthetic, but with anachronistic modern elements thrown in. Primitive electronics. Frankenstein's lab type of shit. Clockpunk, but some meddling with the forces of nature is implied. Frankenpunk, maybe.

What's the point of this? Mainly to stress the message, I guess, that my stuff is NOT steampunk.

But call it what you want.

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