I recently found a well-preserved Spanish cavalry saber and scabbard, which I have seen variously described as a 1907 pattern or 1917 pattern. The scabbard is marked “Toledo,” and I’ve wanted a blade from the city that armored the conquistadors since I was a kid. Overlooking my postcolonial fetishism, this was an interesting time in Spain’s history…of course the sword has seen service, and because every weapon to hand was used in the Spanish Revolution, I imagine this was too.
Displaying a sword is tricky: I didn’t want the bracketed katana and sheath you see in lads’ bedrooms and Hollywood corner offices. That’s usually the sword ensemble we see in my generation. This had to be understated, use upcycled materials, and practically vanish around the hardware and against the wall. It fit best beside the couch, below the staircase, in a disused space too oddly-angled to display anything else.
After some fiddling, I fabbed a mount using elements-rusted steel stock stick-welded together (so as not to disturb the rust patina) with a “modular podular” unit at the base to adjust height and assemble under the couch. The m-p unit uses the tension of two welded-on galvanized steel rods (salvaged from a rolldown security grate) forced into holes in the base to adjust the angle of the totality. The base assembly can also be put together under the couch, and then the stand-rod seated in a socket in the base.
Neodymium button-magnets hold the sword and scabbard in place, yet allow them to be removed easily for inspection. As the photos show, the details of the work are such that no one display angle can feature them all.
Happily, there are more of these posters on the Internet than I’d thought, so this will be a smaller upload project than I’d planned. But sadly, in some cases they are preserved digitally and publicly only because some profiteering scoundrel has dragged them from the archives onto a mug, glossy poster or mousepad, where they can be slowly sanded away by wrist taint and mouse action. As if that’s not profane enough, they’re sometimes emblazoned with a watermark as if the profiteer has any rights to the image!
The final irony is the seller’s location in Las Vegas. My copy has not been retouched like this one at left, and was folded and scribbled on, but one could argue that makes it more authentic. I’m reproducing mine here because if/when these are sold out, the image may disappear when the cache is cleared.
Maybe it’s performing a public service to get these posters back in circulation for a mere $9.95 USD + shipping. Still the watermarking galls me, as much as my wrath is tilting at windmills in a world where Christ is already a night light (but on the other hand, Y_hw_h’s name cannot be spoken and portrayals of Muhammad invite ire and fire). Some periods and some defeats shouldn’t be dragged back into daylight without sober reflection on their course, which is likely beyond the opportunist spraying on this exhumed shroud like a graveyard tomcat.
So fuck you “Artscape Galleries.” I put nazar on your poster printer.
Chip and its circumjacent antenna.
I was at a sporting goods store today when the salesman reminded me that my debit card contains an RFID chip. I had read about it when I got the card years ago (which says BLINK on it with a wireless-signal icon), but had never acted on what I’d read for fear of damaging the card.
I’ve changed a lot as a person since then, and it figures that I got the tip in a sporting-goods store, where one finds more outdoorsy right-wing tendencies. Once I’d chuckled at stainless steel wallets that purport to block scanners from stealing your information, but only because it was the usual “solve a product problem by buying another product” purchasing-Ponzi scheme. Suddenly I was irritated that this RFID feature could compromise me. I’d never used the chip because I buy very little in person, and never in a consuming frenzy where I’d rather save 4 seconds by waving instead of swiping.
The sporting goods salesman pointed out where the chip was and said I could disable it with a hammer blow. The Internet has plenty of lo-fi video examples of people exercising their rage at the exposure to “thieves” (as opposed to my ire at push-consumerism) with awls, microwave ovens and holepunches. Youtube videos document where the chips are and the antennas that amplify their signals. I spread my 3 cards out on the table, found their chips, and perforated them all with a hammer-driven Philips head. Only one had no chip. I was careful to use a demagnetized screwdriver against a wooden block.
A couple of hours later, I was buying produce. The line was long, and I panicked when my debit card wouldn’t swipe. I fumbled with my wallet trying to find the one card I hadn’t punched, and the cashier asked for my debit card. She wrapped it in one of those diaphanous produce bags and ran it twice; the transaction registered the second time. Everyone was very impressed at this resourcefulness.
The cashier had not known what a pomegranate was, but she knew how to circumvent a hitch in the technical matrix that mediates our every gesture—as I had tried to do. Maybe there’s hope for us yet.
Two car brakedrums, two bus brakedrums, a pipe for a burner port…and LOTS of stick welding.
Happy 2013. I’ve mostly finished this bus brakedrum heater that will keep my studio toasty warm in the winter months with only a bit of junk lumber and waste motor/cooking oil. It kept me busy for most of December: sourcing the parts (220lbs of cast steel, sold by weight, is expensive at a scrapyard; had to get around that) and modifying the burner I used for my waste-oil blast furnace before tack-welding it together for a test run. Though the configuration differs from the blast furnace, the physics operate the same.
Despite an impaired preheater and numerous airholes in the shell, which gouted smoke and spilled flaming motor oil, it used very little oil to become dangerously hot. A couple of hours of meticulous stick welding will close up the holes, then I’ll weld some stainless ducting to the car-brakedrum lid as a chimney. Some kind of filtration for the exhaust is also planned, because though motor/cooking oil burns with little smoke under the correct conditions, I’m sure there’s still crap in it I don’t want broadcast over an area. Ideally it will finish with a 12v DC solar-powered blower so it will be grid-independent…so when hurricane season comes next year, I won’t be left huddled and fog-breathed under the covers for days.
When not at work on the furnace, I’ve been enjoying Dead Empire Cinema on YouTube. Serverloads of cinema from Czechoslovakia, the USSR, Romania and other erstwhile “enemies of capitalism” have been uploaded to YouTube, some of it subtitled in English. Hollywood may have conquered the world without firing a shot, but these reels trace the arc of the other statist imperium—and “Zero Hour” makes a more ironically distinguished elegy than, say, our own recent remake of “Red Dawn.” This enormous body of work is virtually untouched by occidental indices and review sites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, so I’ll be writing some reviews as a guide to the English speaking world. Tired of continual war, economic decline and austerity? You might be refreshed by a vision of life under the other boot, or thrill to a glimpse of Pax Americana’s own crepuscule.