Leatherballs XXI: I know what I like, and other bits and pieces

I decided a little earlier this week that I need a little more beauty in my life, so I went cruising around the web looking for Robert Williams paintings. You might not like Robert, but I think he’s fantastic. He, like me, has been called all sorts of things, but the classification I generally see used is “Lowbrow Art.” That’s okay with me; I’m certainly no art critic and I’m not the kind of person who thinks that the “lowbrow” appellation is necessarily an insult.

I like almost all of his paintings; the cartoony surrealism, attention to detail, and the energy they put out just floors me. It may not make me Ponder, but it does make me smile. And the great thing about Robert is his titles are just about as good in their quirky way as the paintings themselves. He always gives them a title, then a “Scholastic Designation,” then a “Remedial Title,” and they’re always just funny as hell. For example:

Dr. Cinnabar’s Cybernoid Art Ray

Scholastic Designation:

Beauty Is Best Expressed Through The Desire To Procreate But When Synthesized Into An Aesthetic Modular System, The Question Is “Can A Computer Respond To Visual Pleasure Enhancement Via Sensory Amplification Of Harmonic Keister Dynamics?”

Remedial Title:

Alien Alphanumeric Ass Worship

And that still doesn’t give you enough of a mental image to even conceive of the bizarre wildness of the actual painting—nor of the gorgeous perfection of the ass being alphanumerically worshipped. Keep your Cezannes and Matisses and Picassos, just let me have Williams.

But then I got to thinking about other things that I think are beautiful but that most would not really consider art at all, and really there are zillions of ‘em. Things that are beautiful because they work well or were nicely designed, or as is usually the case, both. There are plenty of things that I just about go into some kind of trance looking at, so inspiring are they to behold. Like SnapOn wrenches.

I’m still thinking of getting a SnapOn tattoo, honestly. These things are just so well thought-out, wonderfully designed, and finely crafted that you can stare at one all day and not find a flaw. I had a bunch of SnapOn stuff stolen from me in NYC years ago, and I still get pissed off when I think about it. And what a joy they are to use too. There simply is no substitute. The journeyman shadetree mechanic might have Craftsman stuff, and they’re certainly fine; I have a bunch of Craftsman tools myself, and I like ‘em. But SnapOns are simply Other, in a world of their own: a world of functional beauty rarely even approached by anything else in this imperfect world.

Rule of thumb: if you take your car to an auto mechanic, find a way to get a peek into the shop area. If the guy has SnapOn stuff, you’ve found your mechanic. If he’s using Craftsman, well, he might do an okay job but he ain’t the best wrench-wrangler in town. If he’s using Mac or Stanley tools, run like hell. And you’ll probably have to run, too, because if he’s ever had his hands into the guts of your car, it most likely won’t get you to the stoplight at the corner. Unless you push, that is.

A well-made knife is worth its weight in whatever commodity you consider valuable. Over the years I’ve learned that there are some things that you’re just better off going ahead and spending money on. Tools are one of them (see Shop Tips from Leatherballs from OB 179), and knives are another. Buy a cheap knife and you’ll either be back buying another one in a matter of months or you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time cursing the thing to the darkest regions of Hell. A knife is a very handy thing to have, all right; I feel naked going around without one. But having a cheap one is worse than not having one at all.

And Spyderco doesn’t just make knives, they make works of art. When I got my first Spyderco Endura I was like a kid who just got his first Cub Scout knife. I spent an almost embarassing amount of time taking it out of my pocket and just feeling it—opening it, closing it, staring at it, taking every opportunity to put my hands on it like a teenager on his first hot date with the school slut. All steel, sharper than you can imagine, and tough too. Kinda like that school slut, now that I think about it. I broke the tip off one wedging open a door when I locked myself out of my house once. I dulled the edge badly using it to cut coax cable when my old Harley-shop boss and I went to this condemned house to tear out some 40′s style cabinetry he wanted and realized we’d neglected to bring rope to tie it into his truck with. There was a whole bunch of coax lying in the yard, so we went with it. Yeah, I dulled the blade, but it cut that coax damned handily just the same. And you can always resharpen blades.

Thompson submachine guns are legendary–well past it, in fact. In its day the venerable Tommy gun has struck fear into the hearts of cops, robbers, and soldiers alike. It’s said that German troops in WW2 would cut and run just at hearing the distinctive bark of one in the distance–they didn’t call ‘em “choppers” for nothing back in the day, and the Jerries knew it well enough.

They’re a real thrill to shoot too, and if you ever get the chance to you’ll find yourself counting the minutes until you can do it again. They’re muzzle-heavy and cycle slowly compared to modern SMG’s; they’re dead reliable, nicely balanced, and they shoot real bullets (.45, not 9mm Europellets). You can cut down small trees with a Thompson; many GI’s have, in fact. And I could stare at one all day.

Motorcycles I hardly need to go into, I guess, since that’s kinda the reason we’re all here holding this magazine. Likewise, tits. But I’ll go ahead and mention two examples for ‘em: Indians, and Christina Hendricks. The old Indians, with the swooping lines of those snail-shell fenders, the perfect parted-hair cylinder head fins, and the grimacing Indian chief front-fender lamp, are for me just about the highest expression imaginable of motorcycle art. Christina Hendricks’ tits pretty much speak for themselves, and in a language everybody can understand, too.

Here’s something else I found in my internet wanderings which ain’t nearly as pleasant or edifying. Well, except for you chicks, I guess…and hope. From what has to be the most fucked-up cookbook ever written:

Semen is not only nutritious, but it also has a wonderful texture and amazing cooking properties. Like fine wine and cheeses, the taste of semen is complex and dynamic. Semen is inexpensive to produce and is commonly available in many, if not most, homes and restaurants. Despite all of these positive qualities, semen remains neglected as a food. This book hopes to change that. Once you overcome any initial hesitation, you will be surprised to learn how wonderful semen is in the kitchen. Semen is an exciting ingredient that can give every dish you make an interesting twist. If you are a passionate cook and are not afraid to experiment with new ingredients – you will love this cook book!

The book is called Natural Harvest – A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes, but one wag I was reading referred to it as “Cooking With Spunk!” I admit, I do love the bit about how it’s “inexpensive to produce” and “commonly available in many, if not most, homes and restaurants.” Indeed it is. Ladies, it’s available in plenty at my shack, and it won’t cost ya a dime to come on over and collect all you can carry. I think that would be pretty “wonderful” myself, in the kitchen or anyplace else. Just don’t try sneaking any into my mac and cheese later. Be sure to take it with ya when you leave.

All joking aside, though, I mean, Jesus tapdancin’ Christ on a crutch. How the hell does anybody get so hungry and degenerate all at once that they come up with an idea as fucked up as this one? Generally speaking, if you’re starving, degeneracy kind of goes out the window, at least sexually speaking. And if you’re hale and healthy enough to entertain weirdo fantasies like this one, chances are you aren’t starving, so there’s no reason for it to ever come up. So to speak.

Yeah, I know. I’m sorry. I really, really am.

Which leads us directly to this terrifying story:

Feds: Larksville man contaminated co-workers’ lunches with semen

The Larksville man charged by the FBI in a food contamination plot repeatedly injected his semen into the lunches of female co-workers, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

Authorities said Joseph Bartorillo secretly injected semen into yogurt two female co-workers brought for lunch at the Procter & Gamble paper products facility in Wyoming County.

Details continued to emerge Wednesday in the case that came to light Tuesday when federal prosecutors announced the 60-year-old was facing food tampering charges in the semen-spreading plot.

Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell vowed Bartorillo would face more charges on the state level.

“I have never seen a situation like this before,” Mitchell said. “It’s definitely very unique.”

Let’s hope so, for all our sakes. Let’s also hope this guy, or anybody else with similar ideas, never gets his hands on a copy of “Cooking With Spunk.” Or at the very least, that he doesn’t work in any of the greasy spoons I tend to frequent. For his own sake, if I find out about it.

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