September 27, 2013

Show & Tell Participants from Sept. 11, 2013


Mira Cook works for a modern dance company. In 2012 she traveled to an isolated Russian mining town about five hour southeast of Moscow, where she'd hired to teach hip-hop dance workshops to the local residents. While there, she suffered a nasty bout of menstrual cramps. She hadn't brought along any painkillers, so she asked for help from her Russian chaperone, who obtained a small bottle of pills from the local grocery. They worked quite well -- so well, in fact, that Mira made a point of getting more of them during a return trip to Russia. The writing on the bottle is in Cyrillic, so Mira isn't sure what the drug even is. "But I'm pretty sure it's not, like, a horse tranquilizer or anything like that," she says. "I recommend it." (Photo by Alie McNeil)



David Ashby moved to New York a little over a year ago. "All I had was a suitcase," he says. "I had no real plan — I just wanted to move to New York City. My parents were convinced I'd end up dead or homeless." In an effort to avoid those fates, he bought a copy of NYC: An Owner's Manual, which he hoped would help him navigate his new home. But it turned out he didn't need it: During his flight to New York, he bumped into an old high school friend he hadn't seen in years. The friend offered to let David sleep on his couch, and a series of additional lucky breaks followed. So he acclimated to New York, just fine, even without the book. "But I keep it on the bookshelf as a reminder of what I brought with me," he says. (Photo by Alie McNeil)



Tony Limuaco is from Guam, which is home to a type of cycad — a plant that, according to Tony, "can survive anything." Its fruit is full of cyanide, but people in Guam have figured out how to process it in a way to make it edible. "You'll see it served at religious festivals," says Tony. "It'll be in the back room, as opposed to the roast pig in the front." He picked these two pieces of fruit in the parking lot behind a Wendy's in 2006 and has been saving them since them for a special — or dire — occasion. "This is desperation food," he says. (Photo by Alie McNeil)



We conclude, as usual, with Show & Tell host Paul Lukas — me. This installment of Show & Tell took place on Sept. 11, so I decided to share an object related to my experience of the 9/11 attacks of 2001. I lived in Brooklyn at the time, just as I do now (my aparatment is about two miles from Ground Zero). In the hours after the Twin Towers fell, there was a big call for blood donors. I’d never donated blood before, but it seemed like a good idea, so I did it. As it turned out, there was no need for extra blood after all, because there were no survivors at the towers — only victims. But the hospital system always needs blood anyway, and I was surprised by how good it felt to donate, so I went back and did it again two months later (the minimum time they allow between donations). During that second visit, I filled out the paperwork to receive my blood donor card. With a couple of exceptions, I’ve continued to give blood every two months for the past dozen years. Every single time, I’ve thought about Sept. 11, and how if my blood ends up helping even one person, then at least a little good will have come out of the tragedy.


And now some sad news: I'm sorry to report that this will be the last installment of Show & Tell for a while. We've had a good run at Freddy's, but it's starting to feel like the project has run its course, so it's going to go on hiatus for a bit. My hope is that Show & Tell will resurface a few months down the road at a new venue, and perhaps with a rejiggered format.

Show & Tell wouldn’t have been possible without the help of a great many people, and I'd like to thank them now. First and foremost, my thanks to Donald O'Finn and everyone at Freddy's, who provided me with a great venue at no charge. My thanks also to Heather McCabe, who helped get me in the door at Freddy's and later served as Show & Tell's audio engineer and biggest booster.

I'm also grateful to Kirsten Hively, who was involved with Show & Tell right from the beginning in 2010, and who later designed the excellent S&T logo. She also served as the S&T photographer several times.

Several other people graciously offered their photographic services, including Cameron Blaylock, Ari Friedman, Brad Heck, Saskia Kahn, Deb Klein, Nechama Levy, Alie McNeil, and Willow O'Feral. All of them gamely took on the daunting task of shooting in Freddy's back room, where the lighting is, shall we say, very challenging. I'm grateful for their help and for their photographs, which will remain here on this site.

Most of all, I'm thankful to all the people who shared their objects and stores at Show & Tell. Some only participated once, while others became regulars (hi, Adel!), but all contributed to the great spirit of object-based storytelling that Show & Tell came to embody. It's been a pleasure and a privilege to document all their stories.

See you soon. — Paul

July 17, 2013

Show & Tell Participants from July 10, 2013


Nechama Levy owns and manages a bike shop called Bicycle Roots, which opened in June and whose launch was partially crowd-funded. People who gave $35 received a T-shirt, cap, and water bottle, like the one from which she's drinking in the photo shown above. The bottles were ordered in mid-May and were supposed to be delivered within two weeks, but the whole thing turned into a drama, as the bottles were mistakenly sent to the wrong address, then mistakenly sent back to the manufacturer instead of being forwarded to the proper address, and so on. Nechama: "I was like, arrgghh!" The bottles finally arrived a few hours prior to this installment of Show & Tell, so Nechama decided use one of them to tell this story. Here's a closer look. (Photo by Alie McNeil)



Eric Frank was running his fingers along the spines of some books at the University of Rochester library two years ago when he encountered something that felt like wood, not like a book. He reached into the shelf and pulled out this combination thermometer/barometer. On the back of the gadget were two Post-its, which said:

"Remember when we watched Shutter Island in Hoyt after all those creepy things kept happening to us?"

"No, I have a bad memory."

Eric was intrigued enough by this to take the device for himself. "They make me interested in the object because of the feelings and thoughts assigned to it," he says. "Also, the barometer dial has terms like 'Unsettled' and 'Stormy,' which is how you feel most of the time in college." (Photo by Alie McNeil)



While attending college at the University of Michigan, Max Frank (yes, Eric's brother) befriended a woman named Mallory, who was a bit troubled: she was always high, she drank hydrogen peroxide, and on and on. One day Mallory crashed on Max's couch, so Max went out for a walk, during which he found this abandoned doll, which was made in Israel. It was dirty and a bit bedraggled — one eye was closed, one shoe was missing. Just like Mallory! Max took the doll and cleaned it up. As Mallory drifted out of his life, Max says, "the doll became Mallory." (Photo by Alie McNeil)



Greg Guthrie attended college at Vanderbilt, where he and some friends attended a "Casino Night" event. Frustrated by the slow pace of their winnings, they decided to set up their own mini-casino within the event. Greg ran back to his dorm and retrieved this set of dice, which he and his friends used to run a rigged dice game over in a corner of the room. People were only betting raffle tickets, not real money, but still, "We were scamming the whole crowd," Greg says. He and his friends ended up with hundreds of raffle tickets and used them all to try to win a big TV for their room. "But we didn't win," says Greg. "We were crushed!" (Photo by Alie McNeil)



When Ari Friedman was two years old, his mother made this book for him. It's an amazing object, hand-sewn from various pieces of cloth. The interior pages features assorted animals, each one with a zipper or buckle or snaps or some other type of open/close mechanism. (You can see these pages here.) Although the book seems like a remarkable keepsake, Ari has lost track of it several times during his life. "It disappears from my life and then comes back," he says. "I just found it again a few months ago. I'm not letting go of it this time." (Photo by Alie McNeil)



Alie McNeil (who took all the other photos for this installment of Show & Tell) loves her hometown of Columbia, Missouri. During a recent trip home to visit her family, she picked up this deck of cards, which features notable spots around Columbia. You can get a better sense of the cards here. As she talked about the cards, people in the Show & Tell audience started asking her which spots were assigned to certain cards in the deck. The two of clubs, for example, is Booches Billiard Hall ("They're closed on Sundays," says Alie, "so they put a sign on the door that says, 'See You in Church!'"). And the three of clubs is Alie's high school. "Our mascot was the kewpie," she says. Alie was off for another visit to Columbia two days after this installment of Show & Tell. (Photo by Paul Lukas, using Alie's camera)



We conclude, as usual, with Show & Tell host Paul Lukas — me. I normally wear this T-shirt only once a year, on the last Saturday of July. That's the date of the annual volunteer firemen's chicken barbecue fundraiser in my hometown of Blue Point, Long Island. (The event is promoted more heavily on the back of the shirt.) I began attending the firehouse barbecue with my family when I was a kid and have made a point of continuing to attend each year as an adult, even though my parents no longer live in Blue Point. I always bump into old friends (and occasionally old enemies), and it's a nice way for me to feel connected to the town, if just barely. I bought this shirt at the 1990 barbecue and have kept wearing it to the event each year since then. The T-shirts they currently sell look nothing like this one, and invariably some old-timer spots me, nods approvingly, and says, "Oooh, haven't seen one of those shirts in a while." That always makes me feel good, like I still have some Blue Point cred. (Photo by Alie McNeil)


That's it for this round of Show & Tell. Big thanks to all who attended, even bigger thanks to the participants, and bonus thanks to Alie McNeil for the photography and to Heather McCabe for handling the audio. Show & Tell will be hiatus for August, so our next show will be Wednesday, Sept. 11, 8pm, in the back room at Freddy's. Hope to see you then.

June 17, 2013

Show & Tell Participants from June 12, 2013


When Karen Yeh was five or six years old, she began saving the fortunes from her fortune cookies. Nearly 25 years later, after averaging about four Chinese restaurant meals per year, she now has about 100 of the fortunes, which she keeps in a little clear plastic box. She won't accept or collect fortunes from other people -- only from her own cookies. Some of her favorite fortunes include "To exercise the body is to purify the soul" and "Do not mistake temptation for opportunity." She also likes the old trick of adding "in bed" to the end of a fortune: "You constantly struggle for self-improvement — in bed" and "Adventure can be happiness — in bed." She read these "in bed" fortunes with a gentle sense of innuendo that felt just right. (Photo by Alie McNeil)



Beau Dodson's parents traveled a lot for work, and he spent much of his childhood being raised by his grandparents. When he was about 10 years old, he was poking around his grandparents' house and found these portraits of his parents and family, which had been taken in December of 1987. (You can get a closer look at the photos here; Beau is the baby in the center.) The photos made Beau realize how much he missed his parents, so he took the photos, which he now carries around in his wallet. His other thought upon seeing the photos was, "I can't wait until I have long hair and a beard like my Pops." As you can see, he's taken care of that now that he's an adult. (Photo by Alie McNeil)



Aaron Jacobs has been dating a great girl, but she recently announced that she'll be leaving New York for another job in six weeks. So Aaron made up a list of fun things for them to do during the short time they have left together. One item on the list, which they did on their way to Show & Tell, was to go to a Goodwill shop and buy "crazy gifts" for each other. She bought him this cat-themed vest, which still had its Goodwill price tag ($8 — kinda pricey for Goodwill!). It was a big deal for Aaron to share this story, because "Normally I don't share — not even French fries." (Photo by Alie McNeil)



Brendan Schlagel received this light meter as a Christmas gift from his father and stepmother when he was in high school. "I like it because it's a small, kind of beautiful mechanical object," he says. "It symbolizes how I got started in photography. Now I've moved on to filmmaking and writing." He used to meter to confirm that the light in Freddy's back room, where we conduct Show & Tell, is pretty crummy. (Photo by Alie McNeil)



Morgan Doninger says his grandfather "didn't care about baseball and didn't read the Daily News." But he knew that Morgan was a big baseball fan. So in 1973, when Morgan was five years old, his grandfather bought the Daily News each Sunday during the baseball season and saved the Mets and Yankees posters that the newspaper was giving away. At the end of the season, he presented the full set of posters to Morgan, who still has them. "That was the kind of thing he did," says Morgan. (Photo by Alie McNeil)



The shirt that Haisi is wearing was made by her mother about 40 years ago in China. "She's really, really talented," says Haisi. "She'd make all her own clothes and then, when they went out of fashion, she'd give them to me, because we're the same size." She explains that her mother intentionally made the sleeves a bit short "for ease of working," because she was always working hard with her hands. (Photo by Alie McNeil)



Alie McNeil, who took all the other portraits for this round of Show & Tell, has a grandmother who developed an interesting hobby late in life: She found the little toy cars that her children had played with while growing up and decided she liked them. So she started buying more and more of these little cars and made shadowboxes out of them. Before Alie moved to New York, she asked and received permission to take one of the cars with her as a keepsake. She chose a little police car. (Here's a closer look.) "It looks kind of old, which I like," she says. (Photo by Paul Lukas, with Alie McNeil's camera)



We conclude, as usual, with Show & Tell host Paul Lukas — me. This installment of Show & Tell took place just a few days before Father's Day, so I chose an object related to that. Here's the deal: In 1973, when I was nine years old, I got the idea that our family should go to see the Mets on Father's Day. So I saved up my allowance (25¢ a week) until I had enough to cover the cost of my father's ticket. But I hadn't really thought very far ahead on this project, because I didn't have enough to pay for my own ticket, or my Mom's, or my brother's. So my father had to pay for those. He also had to pay for parking, pay for hot dogs and soda, drive through holiday traffic to and from the game, and so on. In other words, this wasn't exactly the most thoughtful Father's Day gift. But my father never complained, and he seemed to enjoy the day. Forty years later, I still have my ticket stub, which you can see more clearly here. (Photo by Alie McNeil)


That's it for this round of Show & Tell. Big thanks to all who attended, even bigger thanks to the participants, and bonus thanks to Alie McNeil for handling the photography. The next installment of Show & Tell will be Wednesday, July 10, 8pm, in the back room at Freddy's. Hope to see you then.

May 12, 2013

Show & Tell Participants for May 8, 2013


When Jonny G. was about 14 or 15 years old, he was poking around the house and found this "Ident-A-Kid" card made that his parents had made for him when he was three. (You can get a closer look at it here.) He had a friend who kept a baby photo of his girlfriend in his wallet, and who decided he wanted childhood photos of his other friends as well, so the friend took Jonny's card and kept it until Jonny "couldn't deal with him having it anymore," at which point Jonny took it back. But then the friend wanted it again and took it, and then Jonny took it back, and now the card has passed back and forth between them about five times. "I kind of enjoy the tradition of it," Jonny says. (Photo by Ari Friedman)



Nechama Levy's dog, Spotless, died about a year ago at the age of 14. She had found him as a stray when he was about three months old and had tricked him into following her home by leaving a trail of dog food that let do her home, "Hansel and Gretel-style." Spotless shed a lot, so she gathered up a bunch of his fur from her apartment and put it in this jar, which she keeps on a shelf, along with his ashes and a doggie sweater. "He was a very special dog," she says. "He made a lot of trouble in his life, but none of his shenanigans ever did him in." (Photo by Ari Friedman)



"I like scarves," says Allie C. She especially likes this one, a Hermès model that her husband and kids gave her as a birthday present. She likes the parrots on the scarf because she's obsessed with the parrots in Green-Wood Cemetery; she likes the tigers on the scarf because she thinks of her husband as "my tiger"; she likes the leopard cubs because they remind her of her children; and she likes the squirrel in the lower-right corner because the squirrel is "my absolute all-time favorite animal." After telling the scarf's story, Allie showed the many ways she can wear it: as a headband, as a turban, as a tube top, as a sash, even as a skirt. "My Mom always taught me that an elegant woman wears silk scarves," she says. (Photo by Ari Friedman)



Ari Friedman had always wanted a pinhole camera. He got this one from a friend who'd decided that he had "too many cameras" and was giving a few of them away. It uses 4"-by-5" film — "the biggest I've ever shot," says Ari. There's no viewfiender, and the exposures have to be quite long (sometimes several minutes), so every shot is a bit of a crapshoot. This, combined with the film being fairl expensive — about $2 per shot — has led Ari to use the camera only sparingly. Still, he's intrigued by it and loves the photos he's taken with it. "It produces a very distinctive look," he says. "The first time I used it and developed the negatives — wow." Footnote: Ari took all the other photos for this installment of Show & Tell, but he used a digital Nikon for those, not the pinhole. (Photo by Nechama Levy)



Andie B. went to Russia about a year and a half ago to celebrate her birthday. She found that the Russian equivalents of bodegas routinely sell small glass containers of vodka for about 75 cents. (You can get a closer look at them here.) The vodka isn't particularly good, but she brought back a bunch of it anyway, in part because the empty containers serve nicely as beverage glasses. "So you finish the crummy vodka, and then you have a glass forever," she says. (Photo by Ari Friedman)



Heather McCabe's friend Russell recently gave her this little "last rites" packet that had belonged to his now-deceased mother. The card inside the packet reads, "I am a Catholic. In case of accident, call a priest." (You can get a closer look at it here.) Russell gave it to Heather as sort of a private joke, because they've both strayed from their strict Catholic upbringings. Then again, there's some question as to how strictly Catholic Russell's mother was, since she never filled out the information on the card. Such packets are not uncommon — you can even buy one on Amazon — but Heather nonetheless finds it highly amusing. "It's just so bizarre and generic," she says. "I almost want to get in an accident, just so someone will find it." (Photo by Ari Friedman)



We conclude, as usual, with Show & Tell host Paul Lukas — me. This installment of Show & Tell took place just a few days before Mother's Day, so I was thinking a lot about my Mom, who had been an artist before she settled down with my father. When I was about 11 years old, she brought home this wooden thingie from a junk shop and hung it on the wall of our living room. She explained that it had been part of a chicken coop (the little "doors" are where the feed would be inserted), but I just thought it was stupid. Why couldn't we have pictures on the wall like normal families? As time went on, though, my Mom's aesthetic strongly influenced my own, and I came to view the chicken coop piece as one of the more beautiful things in our home. When my parents sold their house and moved to a small apartment in 2004, they had to get rid of a lot of stuff, at which point I claimed the chicken coop piece. It now hangs on the wall of my apartment — a nice piece of home décor, and an even nicer reminder of how my Mom taught me to appreciate unconventional things. (Photo by Ari Friedman)


That's it for this round of Show & Tell. Big thanks to all who attended, even bigger thanks to the participants, and bonus thanks to Ari Friedman for handling the photography. The next installment of Show & Tell will be Wednesday, June 12, 8pm, in the back room at Freddy's. Hope to see you then.

April 11, 2013

Show & Tell Participants from April 10, 2013


When Ron U. was 12 or 13 years old in suburban Buffalo, he and a friend began tramping through the woods and through garbage dumps in search of beer cans. This was a start of his beer can collection, which at one point numbered about 700 cans. He later sold most of them but has kept about 75 cans, including this Krueger can from the mid-1930s (here's a closer look). "Krueger was the first brewery to sell beer in cans," he explains. "So if you collect beer cans, right away you learn about Krueger. That's why I've kept this one -- it's sort of touchstone." (Photo by Saskia Kahn)



Roman Prystajko has an unusual job: He travels around the country installing bus-washing machinery ("Just like a car wash, but really big," he says). He's currently in New York, working on a project at LaGuardia Airport. While stuck in a traffic jam near the airport, he glanced out the window and saw Mt. Calvary Cemetery. He was intrigued by the juxtaposition of the gravestones in the foreground and the Manhattan skyline in the background, so he pointed his phone out the passenger window and took a photo (here's a closer look). "They say New York is the city that never sleeps, but I call this photo 'The City That Sleeps Forever,'" he says. "I think it's maybe the best photo I've ever taken." (Photo by Saskia Kahn)



Kirsten Hively visited Istanbul in 2007. She wanted to explore the city via its wide variety of public transit methods -- ferries, trams, buses, funiculars -- so she purchased this little yellow gizmo with a small metal disc thingie on the end, which is the Istanbul equivalent of a MetroCard: The gizmo comes pre-loaded with a set amount of value, and then you press the metal surface onto an electronic receptor when boarding a public conveyance, which deducts the appropriate fare. Kirsten had meant to purchase about $15 worth of fares, but she end up with $50 due to a language misinterpretation, so there's probably some value left on the device. That's one reason she's kept it for so many years -- after all, she might go back to Istanbul one day. But there's another reason: "Whenever there's something I'm keeping track of and making sure not to lose -- a wallet, a cell phone -- I have a hard time letting go of it, even when I don't need it anymore." (Photo by Saskia Kahn)



Andi Bee does a lot of animal rescue work. She recently rescued a kitten and gave it to one of her neighbors, but the kitten somehow disappeared. She helped the neighbor look all over his apartment for the kitten, to no avail. Before giving up, she took her dog, Melly, down into the neighbor's basement, thinking the kitten might be hiding down there. Sure enough, Melly soon sniffed out the kitten and all was well. Andi was so proud of Melly that she brought her to Show & Tell -- an unusual object to talk about, but Melly didn't seem to mind. (Photo by Saskia Kahn)



We conclude, as usual, with Show & Tell host Paul Lukas -- me. The recent Jewish holiday of Passover prompted me to tell this story: When I was growing up, our family wasn't religious, but we always had matzos in the house during Passover. I loved to take a big sheet of matzo, slather it with butter, sprinkle on some salt, and devour it. That's precisely what I was doing one afternoon when I was about nine years old, when I heard a car door closing shut in our driveway. It was my Mom — home from work more than an hour earlier than usual. And there I was, about to be caught with contraband matzo (I wasn't supposed to be eating between-meal snacks, "It'll ruin your appetite," blah-blah-blah). There was no time to run to the garbage can or the toilet, so I reached over on a nearby shelf, lifted the cover off of our family game of Scrabble, slipped the matzo inside, and then went and greeted my Mom. The next morning, before I left for school, I retrieved the incriminating mazto and disposed of it. But the inner box cover and board had been sullied with a few butter stains. Decades later, those stains are still there -- timeless documents of my transgression. And here's a little epilogue: In 2007, I wrote an article about the Streitz matzo factory in Manhattan. While interviewing the company’s vice president, I told him the Scrabble story. He listened, thought for a moment, and then said, “That’s a shame to waste a good matzo like that.” (Photo by Saskia Kahn)


That's it for this round of Show & Tell. Big thanks to all who attended, even bigger thanks to the participants, and bonus thanks to Heather McCabe for running the audio and to Saskia Kahn for once again serving as the Show & Tell shutterbug (check out more of her photography on her web site, and then hire her!). The next installment of Show & Tell will be Wednesday, May 8, 8pm, in the back room at Freddy's. Hope to see you then.

March 14, 2013

Show & Tell Participants from March 13, 2013


Ari Friedman was visiting the Cloisters nine months ago when he noticed a book, called The Paris Edition, that someone had left behind on a bench. He picked it up and saw that a note was taped to the cover. It said, "Traveling Book: I am not lost -- I'm on a journey." The book had been registered as part of BookCrossing, a project that lets people share books and track their progress as they're passed from person to person (here's the BookCrossing page for the book Ari found). Interestingly, Ari says he wasn't much of a reader before that day at the Cloisters, "but this book got me back into reading." At the end of his Show & Tell presentation, he gave the book to someone in the S&T audience, so now the book is off on the next phase of its journey. (Photo by Saskia Kahn)



"I'm not a successful person in athletic competition," says Nachema Levy. But in 2007 she entered an alleycat race -- basically an informal, unauthorized bike race, usually set up by bike messengers -- and was the top female finisher, for which she won this Manhattan Portage messenger bag. It's the only race she's ever won, and she credits her victory to "being ballsy, not fast," because she took the most direct route, even though that meant she was biking on a highway alongside speeding cars. Seven days later she was run over on her bike by a garbage truck and, as she puts it, "kind of lost my taste for competition." (Photo by Saskia Kahn)



2004 was an eventful year for Matt Kimmett: He got divorced, quit two jobs, and booked himself a ’round-the-world tour. He soon found himself in Las Vegas, where he was annoyed to discover that his hotel room at the Tropicana Casino did not have an ashtray, even though he'd specifically booked a smoking room. So he wandered down to the lobby and grabbed this ashtray. Instead of leaving it behind when he moved on, he decided to take it with him because, as he puts it, "you might need an ashtray when you're traveling." The ashtray eventually accompanied him to Australia, Asia, and Europe, as he continued on his worldwide tour, and got plenty of use along the way. He now wants to bring things full-circle and return to Las Vegas, where he plans to leave the ashtray where he found it at the Trop. (Photo by Saskia Kahn)



David Rondinelli has been a big fan of the actress Rose McGowan -- like, a really big fan -- ever since he saw her performance in the 1995 movie The Doom Generation. "She holds a special place in my heart," he says. "I felt like we shared a lot of similarities." So he was excited when he got to see McGowan making an appearance at the 2011 New York Comic Con. She was taking questions from the crowd, so he asked her a question ("If we took all the bad-ass characters you've played and brought them all together for a fight, which one would end up standing on the corpses of all the others?"), which was apparently such a good question that it brought a round of applause from the other fans in attendance. He also told McGowan he'd loved her ever since he'd seen her curse someone out in a movie, so she obligingly cursed him out in response. When it came time for him to have McGowan autograph a photo of herself, David asked her to use a line she used in the film Jawbreaker: "Fate has decided, my dear, that you will be cool." (Photo by Saskia Kahn)



Adel Souto recently got in the habit of sitting on his couch and meditatively combing his beard with this pocket comb. It was part of a larger, long-term project of self-transformation through a program of humble living and self-denial of things like sweets and tobacco. Eventually, he says, the program was so successful that his "third eye" opened and a stream of creative productivity poured out of him: He wrote an entire philosophy book in one day (although it has not yet been published); he wrote two entire articles in his head while on the subway (he shopped them around but found no takers, apparently because he used racially charged language); and he experienced "a purple light emitting from my chest, a state of bliss, and eight full-body orgasms -- without ejaculation" (a claim that prompted several very curious inquiries from members of the Show & Tell audience). He doesn't attribute all of this to the pocket comb, but the comb was a step in the process. "All the things the mystics say are true," he says. (Photo by Saskia Kahn)



About six years ago, Saskia Kahn (who took all the other photos for this round of Show & Tell) decided she needed a winter coat, so she purchased this coat made by the North Face. "It seemed very cool, very Brooklyn," says Saskia, who grew up and went to college in Brooklyn. But now she finds the jacket problematic: "It's so embarrassing. I wear it when I work on these photo shoots in Manhattan, and I look like a Brooklyn girl, not a Manhattan girl, with my hoop earrings and my North Face jacket. It even has stains on it that look like cum stains!" (They're actually just wax.) So why doesn't she just get another jacket? "I hate shopping," she says. (Photo by Heather McCabe)



We conclude, as usual, with Show & Tell host Paul Lukas -- me. On May 18, 1999, my car got a flat tire. I took it to one of those flat-fix places, where a worker inspected the tire and pulled out this screw (you can get a better look at it here). As I looked at the screw, an art project formed in my mind: I would save this screw, along with all subsequent objects that gave me flat tires, and mount them in some sort of framed display, with little labels noting the date and location of each flat tire. I envisioned the screw being accompanied by a nail, a piece of glass, a random scrap of metal, and so on, and the end result would be a document of my history of flat tires. I was pretty pleased with this idea (probably too pleased) because, as a writer, I'd never been good at creating visual art, and I thought this project would be just the thing to get me started down an artistic path. Just one problem: In the nearly 14 years since the screw was extracted from my tire, I haven't gotten another flat. In most respects, this is a good thing. But on some level I find it mildly frustrating. (Photo by Saskia Kahn)


That's it for this round of Show & Tell. Big thanks to all who attended, even bigger thanks to the participants, and über-special thanks to Heather McCabe for running the audio and to Saskia Kahn for serving as this month's Show & Tell shutterbug (check out more of her photography on her web site, and then hire her!). The next installment of Show & Tell will be Wednesday, April 10, 8pm, in the back room at Freddy's. Hope to see you then.

February 22, 2013

Show & Tell Participants from February 13, 2013


Courtney Coumo loves Halloween, even more than Christmas. This past Halloween, she bought a pair of giant, pointy ears and decided to be the Elf That Steals Things That People Lose. But then Hurricane Sandy hit on Oct. 28, "and my plan kind of went to shit," she says. She had come to terms with the idea that there would be no Halloween this time around, but then on Oct. 31, amidst all the hurricane damage, she saw a kid dressed up like Superman, which renewed her Halloween spirit. She put on the ears, walked around her neighborhood, and even went to the Brooklyn Museum, all the while garnering a range of very positive responses. "It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life," she says. "So the lesson is, no matter what the hell happens, just wear the freakin' ears." (Photo by Kirsten Hively)



Coree Spencer began wearing this black hair band on Oct. 3, 2012, which is the day she moved to New York from California. Since then, she's gotten a job, been fired, and suffered from severe depression, but she has always worn the band, either in her hair or on her wrist. She has a box of other hair bands, but she's stayed with this one. "There have been times," she says, "when it felt like this was the only thing holding me together." (Photo by Kirsten Hively)



Sam Baumel acquired this stick in North Carolina in December of 2011. It has spent most of its time since then in his car, where it's occasionally come in handy. One time he used it to fish his keys out from under the seat; another time he used it to poke a hole in the ground "to bury something before crossing the Canadian border." Asked what this something was, he says, "Illegal drugs, which were retrieved 48 hours later." (Photo by Kirsten Hively)



Valerie Bronte and her best friend love the movie Beastmaster, in which Rip Torn wears a ring with an eyeball. The best friend happens to be a jeweler, so she made Valerie this eyeball-ish ring. The unusual thing is that the dark part of the ring is coprolite, which is a fancy term for fossilized dinosaur scat, and the white line running through the center of it is a trilobite, making for a double-fossilized piece of jewelry. (Photo by Kirsten Hively)



In 2008, Nell Constantinople was working on a documentary film in Peru. While there, a shaman convinced her to try the Peruvian ahahuasca process, which is essentially a psychoactive drug trip that supposedly purges demons and leads to spiritual enlightenment -- or, in Nell's case, leads to intense vomiting and extended illness, which she had not expected. As someone said to her at the time, "You clearly had a lot of demons to get rid of." While she was recuperating, the shaman's helper -- an eight-year-old boy -- gave her this lizard toy that his mother had made for him. "He meant it as a comforting tool," she says, "but to me it represents fragility and mortality." (Photo by Kirsten Hively)



These old fraternity calendars belonged to Mary Kathryn Bedlock's father, and date back to the time when he and Mary Kathryn's mother both attended Arkansas State University in the 1960s and ’70s. The women in the photos include friends of her mother and aunt from that period, and Mary Kathryn loves the outfits they were wearing. "The fashions are so relevant, even today," she says. She had considered turning the photos into collages, as part of an art project about family heirlooms, but now she's decided to keep them intact. (Photo by Kirsten Hively)



David Rondinelli came to New York in 2006 and wanted to make new friends. At the suggestion of his brother, he joined a local rugby team -- an unusual choice for David, who was never all that athletic. As it turned out, he not only made new friends but also lost 30 pounds and won this "Most Improved" award in 2008, which he particularly proud of. "I was always a bookworm-ish type," he says, "so it was pretty inspiring to be part of this athletic culture." (Photo by Kirsten Hively)



Nechama Levy is wearing a khata, which is a traditional Buddhist scarf. It was given to her in 2005, after she went for a hike outside a town in northern India and ended up getting lost in the jungle for three days. She eventually found her way back to the town, by which time she'd become something of a local celebrity -- half the town had been out looking for her. When she left the town to move on with her travels, many of the local residents came out to see her off, and they presented her with the scarf. She explains all this goodwill like so: "They didn't want to be known as the place where the American died." (Photo by Kirsten Hively)



Nicole Reber is holding her copy of Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara. "It's one of my favorite books of poetry, and the book that made me want to be a poet," she says. After talking about the O'Hara for a minute or so, she launched into a reading of one of his poems from the book, "Ave Maria," which is an exhortation for the mothers of America to let their kids go to the movies. (Photo by Kirsten Hively)


Emma Williford loves this "sand swirly thing," which keeps reconfiguring into new sand patterns as it's rotated. "You can stare at it for hours," she says. "It even glows in the dark!" It was in her parents' house throughout her childhood, and then she annexed it at some point during college. These days she uses it as an oversized coaster. It's now showing its age -- there are some worn spots. "One day it'll crack," she says. "I'll cry." (Photo by Kirsten Hively)



We conclude, as usual, with Show & Tell host Paul Lukas -- me. I acquired this copy of the Rolling Stones' 1972 LP, Exile on Main Street, about 30 years ago. In that time, the back cover has developed a bunch of scratches centering around a small indent. This is because I also own a copy of the Stones' 1971 LP, Sticky Fingers, whose cover design featured a real zipper (it was later changed to just a photo of a zipper). Since I shelve my LPs alphabetically by artist and chronologically within artist -- which is really the only way -- these two LPs have always been next to each other, and the Sticky Fingers zipper has gouged a little divot into the Exile cover over the years. Whenever I'm in a used record store, I look at old copies of Exile to see if they have the same scratches, and they often do, which makes me feel connected to the larger subculture of record geeks who file their LPs the same way I do. (Photo by Kirsten Hively)


That's all for this time. Big thanks to all participants, and bonus thanks to Kirsten Hively for the photos and to Heather McCabe for handling the interstitial music. The next installment of Show & Tell will be Wednesday, March 13, 8pm, in the back room at Freddy's. Hope to see you then.