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