Thrift Shop/Clinic to Open in SF

September 28, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Posted in News | 2 Comments

outThe HIV/AIDS foundation affiliated with Magic Johnson is opening a revolutionary new facility in San Francisco tomorrow where you can shop at the thrift store, have prescriptions filled, AND get free HIV tests. According to this press release:

“AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the US’ largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider, which provides medical care and/or services to more than 100,000 individuals in 21 countries worldwide, is honored to announce the grand opening of the Church St. AHF Magic Johnson Healthcare Center, AHF’s first ‘all-in-one’ site–and the first of its kind in the nation. In addition to the Magic Johnson clinic, the new facility includes an AHF Pharmacy, an Out of the Closet thrift store and free HIV testing–all in one location.

“California State Senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco/San Rafael) and Leland Yee, Ph.D., (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) will help AHF officially open this new venture in the fight against AIDS, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, September 30th at 10am at the new AHF Magic Johnson Healthcare Center located on 100 Church St., San Francisco, CA 94114, adjacent to AHF’s Out of the Closet thrift store….

“All of AHF’s sixteen healthcare centers–located in California and Florida–provide comprehensive, patient-centered care designed specifically for HIV-positive clients, offering access to the additional specialists, medications and services they need to be as healthy as possible. This newest facility is AHF’s fifth clinic named in partnership with and in honor of HIV-positive basketball legend Magic Johnson….

“In addition to providing specialized expertise for people living with HIV/AIDS, AHF Pharmacy also offers the community a friendly, personal and not-for-profit alternative to the large, retail pharmacies. AHF Pharmacy is a full-service pharmacy, able to fill any prescription and open to everyone–HIV-positive or not. Revenues generated contribute to caring for AHF patients as well as supporting its prevention and testing programs worldwide. As its spokesperson in print and television advertisements, actor and activist Blair Underwood has urged widespread use of the AHF pharmacy as an opportunity to help others….

“With nineteen locations throughout California and Florida–including five in the Bay Area–AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s popular and award-winning Out of the Closet thrift store chain is the nation’s largest retail fundraising vehicle for HIV/AIDS medical care. Several Out of the Closet thrift store locations offer free HIV testing services, including the Polk St. location and soon at the newly opened Oakland store. AHF is the operator of the largest non-government HIV testing program in California currently providing more than 30,000 tests this year,

“AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the US’ largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 100,000 individuals in 21 countries worldwide.”

Don’t Throw Out Those Old Pillows, Either

September 26, 2009 at 9:01 am | Posted in Tips | 3 Comments

pillowHere’s a handy tip from Green Prophet: “Pillows are made of not the best synthetic material for landfills. That plus the fact that pillow manufacturing companies recommend getting new ones every 6 months to 2 years. That can lead to a lot of unhealthy non-degradable fluff filling up our dumps.

“The good news is that there are plenty of wonderful ways to reuse your old pillows, just make sure that you wash them first…

“Use the stuffing to pad new pillows making them even firmer! Donate them to a local animal shelter. What isn’t fluffy enough for you is a pillow heaven for an unwanted puppy. Make decorative pillows for your living room and use the old pillows to stuff them. Save them for the next time you pack. Your dishes will never have a smoother move.”

Don’t Throw Those Out….

September 24, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Posted in News | 4 Comments

rollBecause now it’s … toilet-paper-roll sculptures! According to the Daily Mail:

“French artist Junior Fritz Jacquet, 30, who describes himself as a ‘creator and sculptor in paper’, then mounts his creation on steel stands and sets them loose on the art-buying world.

“The Parisian artist said his passion for paper started with school origami classes and he now takes inspiration from the unique characteristics of cardboard.

“He said: ‘I first concentrate on the construction of the eyes, then the nose, then the mouth and then the entire expression. I am trying to create funny and jovial expressions and will keep working on my technique because there is no limit to experimentation. I started to get interested in origami techniques when I was 14. At school the teacher gave us origami models to build ourselves. My connection with origami was immediate and I quickly understood that you could take it a long way from a single sheet of paper. I have perfected my technique since then. I work with every sort of paper and believe every type has its own personality. In the end, every mask is unique.'”

The Vanished Man

September 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Posted in Finds | 4 Comments

electronics-junk-box234Last Saturday, an ad was placed on Craigslist stating that an entire apartment in our town was being emptied and the stuff would be put out for free at 1 p.m. … So we two scavengers and a handful of others showed up. A cleanup team was bringing stuff out one box at a time. Some of it — like some very gross food — they poured directly into the Dumpster. But most of the stuff they set out along the sidewalk. We assumed that the tenant had died, but then talked to a neighbor who said she’d heard a rumor that the guy had simply walked away one day without paying rent, leaving everything behind.

Apartment or house clearouts are always very humanizing and interesting experiences and these, too, are a kind of spiritual thing because you are suddenly seeing someone’s life unfiltered, and by picking through their stuff you are (a) being a creepy little vermin, like a rat, but also (b) “inheriting” their things that would otherwise be thrown away and cease to mean anything to anyone.

It’s also interesting in a historical and psychological sense because all the stuff is clues to who this vanished person was. So from that apartment’s stuff, we concluded the following: that the former tenant was a very, very large man (we could tell from the size of the clothes); that he liked guns (there were holsters, ammunition boxes, and paper targets full of holes); that he liked comics (there were piles of comics, some carefully preserved in cellophane wrappers); and that he loved porn. There was soooo much porn … videos, magazines … which made us jump to the conclusion that, along with everything else, the guy was really lonely. Why do we assume that? Surely some happy and/or sexually active people who are not at all lonely also like porn. But man. There were like tons of it, mostly magazines from the ’80s.

To be honest, there really wasn’t much we wanted to take, even though it was all free. I found a couple of very large T-shirts in solid black which I might hem really short and paint with whimsical designs, which is something I’ve been meaning to do ever since I acquired (for free) a bag of fabric paints.

I also found a nice polished green stone among the guy’s belongings, which I kept. I just hope he never used it in any way connected with the porn.

Fatboy Slim to Perform in Thrift-Shop Music Fest

September 22, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Posted in Celebrities, News | 1 Comment

fatboy_slim_comes_home_recovered_after_his_alcohol_addiction_main_10376Some cool celebrities will be doing gigs throughout October in Oxfam shops — Oxfam is England’s biggest thrift-shop chain — for charity. Participants in the annual “Oxjam” festival, now in its third year, include Fatboy Slim, VV Brown, Basement Jaxx, Editors, Just Jack and Nitin Sawhney.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation:

“Editors lead singer Tom Smith commented: ‘Putting on shows in Oxfam’s high street stores is a great idea. These places are part of everyone’s daily lives these days, so come September they”ll also be the hottest ticket in town.'”

Oxjam has raised over £1 million for the charity since it was launched in 2006, enough money to secure safe water sources for some 1.3 million people.

According to Virgin’s Music News:

“VV Brown said: ‘The charity shop shows are the highlight of the festival season for me.’

“Each show, held in a specially converted Oxfam shop in London, will be limited to just 150 audience members…. The Oxfam shop, the location of which remains secret until later, will become an Oxjam shop for the week, selling the best second-hand music in London during the day. During the evening, it will be converted into a gig venue, playing host to the intimate performances. This year the festival will be helping deprived people cope with the devastating effects of climate change. Gig goers will be painting their faces blue as part of a visual statement to the Government to take immediate action.”

Global Beach Cleanup Yields Hundreds of Tons of Junk

September 21, 2009 at 7:54 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

beach-trashWe all love beachcombing, but on coastlines scattered with out-and-out garbage — stuff that wasn’t lost but simply tossed — it becomes downright depressing and misanthropy-provoking. Saturday was International Coastal Cleanup Day, with cleanups organized all over the world under various auspices. The 362-mile-long Oregon Coast, which is generally a scavenger’s paradise, held its 25th annual Great Oregon Fall Beach Cleanup. As revealed at Beach Connection, 3,700 volunteers removed an estimated 54,460 pounds of trash from Oregon’s beaches:

“Among the many interesting items found Saturday were a car bumper, a pacifier, a box of baby wipes, an unopened package of hotdogs that expired last year, a small refrigerator, a life vest, and over 125 shoes and flip flops. Volunteers reported finding an unusual number of homeless camps on the beach. At Beverly Beach State Park near Newport, four goats joined volunteers to help keep the coastline clean.

“Some of the most common items found on the beach included Styrofoam, plastic caps, lids, bottles and cigarette butts. While these are often small items, if they accumulate they can do big damage to marine wildlife and the environment, particularly the plastic debris that never fully degrade or disappear.

“Scientists have discovered that more than five million square miles of the Pacific Ocean is covered with trash, and it is believed that most of is comprised of the remnants of plastic trash from the world’s shorelines.”

As for the other side of the world, Express Buzz gives us this bulletin from Shanghumugham Beach in Kerala, India:

“This year … a majority of the litter collected as part of the coastal clean-up day was ice-cream cups and sticks. And if you thought there is no smoking happening in public places because of the anti-smoking law, you are wrong. The second largest litter items were cigarette stubs and burnt match sticks….

“Out of the waste collected and analysed, the major contribution was from ice cream-related waste including wooden ice cream sticks followed by plastic wastes including spoons, ice cream cups, bottles, food wrappers and disposable plastic cups. The plastic cups amounted to as much as 50 percent of the litter on the beach.

“The next major contributors were cigarette stubs and burnt match sticks. Surprisingly only 2 mineral water bottles and 4 liquor bottles were recovered. A disturbing recovery was that of two diapers. The way of disposal of these diapers show the careless attitude of the citizens to the environment…. The remaining contribution was from newspaper bits, abandoned toys, paper, thermocol and other miscellaneous items.

“A remnant of a Ganesha idol made of Plaster of Paris weighing around 5 kg was also found on the beach.”

New Doc Celebrates Dumpster Diving

September 17, 2009 at 8:18 pm | Posted in News | 4 Comments

david-and-gregNow making the indie-film-festival rounds, I Love Trash is a new documentary from Green Planet Films. Allegedly it can be viewed for free here. The 76-minute film documents when happened when pals David Brown and Greg Mann (depicted at left) decided to buy nothing for a three-months period, scavenging everything from the trash instead. At the start of the project, they rent an unfurnished apartment and move in with just a flashlight and the clothes on their backs.

They end up well-fed, well-dressed, and the apartment is furnished lavishly.

But you knew it would end that way, didn’t you?

Here’s a blurb from Green Planet’s website:

“David Brown and Greg Mann try an experiment in waste. After recognizing the huge amount of waste in the United States, David and Greg decide to see just how much people throw away. They move to a new city and get an unfurnished apartment. They bring only the clothes they are wearing and a flashlight and decide to buy nothing for 3 months. All their food, clothes, furniture, electronics, art supplies and entertainment all comes from the trash. It turns out that they are not only able to ‘survive’ but are able to find everything they could need and more. During their project they find many other dumpster divers and discuss all the different reasons for dumpster diving. There are people who dumpster dive for environmental reasons, to stop so much waste from going into landfills. There are people who dumpster dive for the easy lifestyle it provides. There are people who dumpster dive for the fun of finding. There are people who dumpster dive for food. There are people who dumpster dive to make art. There are people who dumpster dive to make money. There are as many different people who dumpster dive as there are reasons.”

Shipwreck Coins: Lost, Found, Lost … and Found?

September 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Posted in News | 1 Comment

museumNew Zealand police are investigating whether historic coins — salvaged from two shipwrecks, housed in a museum, then stolen from that museum nine years ago — are now being sold on the Internet. According to the New Zealand Herald:

“Police have confirmed a Bay of Islands man contacted them and reported seeing coins, which he thought were part of the haul taken from Kelly Tarlton’s Tui Shipwreck Museum at Waitangi nearly a decade ago, for sale on Trade Me,” a New Zealand-based online auction site.

“Up to $500,000 of gold jewellery, coins and other relics recovered from the ocean floor by the late Mr Tarlton were stolen from a glass-covered vault [at the museum] on April 8, 2000.

“Kitchenhand Keith McEwen spent more than seven years in jail for the robbery, but has never revealed what happened to the booty.

“A $10,000 reward was offered by an insurance company for the return of the historic treasures, but not even that was enough to prompt a result.

“The stolen haul included gold sovereigns that Mr Tarlton, a diver, had salvaged from the ship Elingamite, wrecked at Three Kings Islands north of Cape Reinga in 1902, and part of the Rothschild collection he recovered from the ship Tasmania, which sank near Gisborne in 1897.

“The jewellery was not found and an insurance company rejected a $300,000 claim.

“Widow Rosemary Tarlton was not getting her hopes up after the latest revelation.

“Mrs Tarlton visited McEwen several times in Mt Eden Prison to try to find out where the stolen treasure had gone, but to no avail.

“Speaking from her Auckland home yesterday, she said she hoped that the information would lead to the recovery of the stolen treasures.

“‘I’ve always felt it may come back to me. Because it was under the water for all those years and Kelly was able to retrieve them with lots of hard work and then they were stolen. They may come back again,’ Mrs Tarlton said.

“Sergeant Peter Masters, of Paihia police, said a local man contacted police yesterday after he spotted what he thought were coins stolen from the Tui being sold on Trade Me.

“McEwen is back in jail after pleading guilty to a high-profile attack on two Dutch tourists. He admitted a series of charges, including aggravated robbery, kidnapping, sexual violation and rape in November 2006 and received a sentence of preventive detention . The charges related to the abduction of a couple on honeymoon in the Bay of Islands. Justice Tony Randerson described the crime as ‘cruel and sadistic in the extreme.’ Co-offender Christopher Manuel received a nine-year jail sentence.”

We might never know the answer to this mystery.

Are Thrift Shop’s “Dalí” Artworks Real?

September 14, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Posted in News | 2 Comments

6a0109811e5c13000c011016331431860c-500piWow — the New York Times is reporting on some possible Salvador Dalí artworks currently for sale in a Houston, Texas thrift shop:

“In a scene that would most likely appeal to the Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí, several works attributed to him are currently on display next to a disheveled tie rack at a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store in a seedy industrial neighborhood here. The pen-and-ink drawing, crucifix sculpture and set of six lithographs” — which are collectively titled “Le Jungle Humaine,” and including a turquoise giraffe with its mane on fire and a woman with shriveled breasts eating a bird — “are laid out in a glass case among the kind of crystal and brass tchotchkes more typically found in thrift stores. The shelves are lined with black fabric stitched with the words “I ♥ Jesus” in gold,” writes Kate Murphy in the Times.

Bids are being taken on the art, with $8,000 for each of the three lots having been reached two Fridays ago.

“The amounts have risen despite the ubiquity of Dalí fakes and the uncertain provenance of these pieces in particular.

“The works were given to the Salvation Army by an anonymous donor, and the man behind a two-year-old appraisal document — which suggests that they are worth more than $76,000 — says that he cannot be sure that they are the same pieces he evaluated and sold. Appropriately, perhaps, the answer to the question of whether the thrift-store Dalís are real Dalís turns out to be as elusive as the memory of a dream….

“’There’s nothing certain in the Dalí market,’ said Bernard Ewell, an appraiser in Santa Fe, N.M., who specializes in works by Dalí….

“Joseph Nuzzolo, president of the Salvador Dalí Society, an appraisal service and gallery in Redondo Beach, Calif., added that though ‘a lot of people want to have an original Dalí, a lot of them get burned when they buy a fake.’ So any unknown piece presented as the artist’s work calls for scrutiny, especially in a setting as unorthodox as this.

“According to the Salvation Army, the works were donated last year by a woman who is a longtime supporter of that charity’s Adult Rehabilitation Center for substance abusers in Houston. The woman does not want her name to be known, and would not speak to a reporter even on the condition of anonymity, said Juan Alanis, a Salvation Army spokesman in Houston.

“Although the pieces came with documentation from the Salvador Dalí Gallery, in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Bruce Hochman, the gallery’s director, said he would have to see them in person to say unequivocally that they are the works he signed off on back in 2007.

“’I sold them to a dealer in Texas,’ he said, declining to identify the person. That dealer, he added, subsequently sold the works to the woman who donated them to the Salvation Army, whom Mr. Hochman described as the wealthy widow of an oil magnate.

“Mr. Nuzzolo, a vocal critic and business rival of Mr. Hochman’s, said that this year the Salvation Army sent him the pen-and-ink drawing — a whimsical rendering of what looks like a spinning man, titled ‘Don Quichotte’ — to see if he could sell it, and that he determined that it was a fake.”

Scavenged Carrots + Chocolate + Scrap Metal = Racecar

September 12, 2009 at 7:34 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

2753__0075Researchers at Great Britain’s University of Warwick have unveiled what they’re calling the world’s greenest Formula 3 race car. Manufactured at a cost of £500,000 (aka nearly $1 million), able to reach speeds of 135 mph, and dubbed “WorldFirst,” the fully functional vehicle’s scavenged components include soda bottles, vegetable fiber, “waste chocolate,” flaxseeds, soybeans, and scrap metal, according to the business blog domain-b:

“Using recycled materials, and with support from over 50 companies, the design team headed by Dr Kerry Kirwan has created a car for just £500,000. And not just any old car, but a racing car capable of taking on the world’s finest.

“Unveiling his creation at the annual conference of the British Science Association, Dr Kirwan is confident that his innovative creation will not embarrass him. So confident, in fact, that he is entering his car in a Formula 3 championship race at the iconic Brands Hatch circuit in Kent….

“The car’s chassis has been reclaimed from a scrapped vehicle. So also its 2 litre BMW diesel engine, which was severely re-engineered so as to run on bio fuel. Recycled carbon fibres from old aircraft panels and recycled soft drink bottles that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill make up most of the vehicle’s body.

“Its steering wheel was manufactured by a company which uses carrot fibres, or cellulose nano-fibres, to give it its technical name, extracted from a carrot soup factory, with technology used to make fishing rods and other products. Curiously, the steering wheel is purple, instead of orange, which leads Dr Kirwan to speculate that beet fibres may have been added to the mix.

“For safety reasons, the wheels, tyres, and the cockpit had to remain conventional, and conform to rigid Formula 3 specifications. So, sadly, wheels made from recycled potato starch and brake pads from cashew nut shells had to be discarded in the design lab. The racing seat though, was made from flax fibre and soybean oil foam….

“Fuel efficient, as befits a ‘green’ vehicle, the car gives 35 miles to a gallon at race speeds. It has been engineered to run on any biodiesel, but so far, the team has been running it on fuel made from waste fat from a chocolate factory, and alcohol distilled from wine dregs. It is difficult to make a racing car that is ultimately sustainable, but Dr Kirwan thinks that this is a step in the right direction.

“Formula 1 racing has long been hated by environmentalists for its polluting ways. This car may be the first step to show people that environmental awareness has its place in motor racing. And this is not all. Some of the technology used in the design of WorldFirst could be successfully transferred to make ordinary cars more sustainable. In fact, Dr Kirwan is in talks to build yachts using recycled carbon fibre. To him, the car was a nice way of packaging up research in a credible way. His team and he hope to show the industry how much is possible using sustainable technologies.”

Warwick University’s website has more pictures of the car.

Minnesota Scavengers: Don’t Miss This

September 11, 2009 at 9:36 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

imagesAccording to the Grand Forks Herald, “Minnesota’s longest rummage sale is set for Saturday on the state’s longest scenic byway.

“The King of Trails Marketplace covers 415 miles on U.S. Highway 75 from the Canada border to the Iowa border, promoter Ethel Thorlacius, Stephen, Minn., said. Highway 75 was designated the Historic King of Trails by the Minnesota Legislature in 2002 and as a Minnesota Scenic Byway in 2004. Vendors will sell antiques, arts, crafts, collectibles, flowers, food and more from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“’It’s getting to be more and more people and not businesses who have produce, baked goods and rummage sale items to sell,’ Thorlacius said.

“The trail of bargains will be outlined by yellow balloons. Thorlacius said Kennedy will conduct sales inside its old schoolhouse and Argyle will use sales proceeds to add on to its Historical Society Building.

“’Every year since we’ve started, Ron Donarski, who owns a truck garage along Highway 75 in Stephen, cleans it up and makes it available for the Marketplace,’ Thorlacius said.

“Crookston will begin its Marketplace at 9 a.m. inside the Crookston Arena, 220 E. Robert St.

“The National Weather Service’s forecast for Saturday calls for a 20 percent chance of showers with a high temperature of 70 degrees.”

Urban Farming Forges Onward

September 9, 2009 at 11:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

teds12Urban farms are popping up all over. City Farmer News is one blog that’s tracking this trend, with revelations about inner-city farms producing edibles on rooftops and traffic islands and in backyards, former empty lots and other such spaces that would otherwise have gone to waste. For example:

“The New Roots Community Farm, developed by refugee aid group the International Rescue Committee, celebrates its official opening day on Thursday, September 10, 2009. What once was a vacant lot in a barren neighborhood in the City Heights section of San Diego has been transformed into a thriving community farm that promotes sustainable agriculture.

“The eighty families who till the land are from all over the world: Cambodia, Somalia, Burma, Laos, Uganda, Congo, Vietnam, Mexico and Guatemala. Here, the farmers cultivate not just corn, tomatoes and eggplant, but also a deeper understanding of their neighbors’ cultures. Down amongst the rows of vegetables, you can hear exchanges about the merits of Machicha and Kunde and how they compare with lettuce, beans and cabbage….”

Rare Scavenging Scene in Shirley Temple Film

September 8, 2009 at 8:08 am | Posted in Celebrities | 2 Comments

shirley_temple12I haven’t watched a Shirley Temple movie in ages, and I suspect that several generations have now reached adulthood without ever even having heard of Shirley Temple. Suffice to say, she was the ultimate child star — singing, dancing and acting in many blockbuster films in the decade or so before World War II. Yes, they were incredibly sappy films with incredibly old-fashioned messages — be brave, be kind, don’t give up hope, remain cheerful in the face of adversity. But the thing is, Shirley had amazing talent. She didn’t write the sappy screenplays, but she could act the heck out of them. And for someone so young to sing and dance so well, with such precision, is pretty astounding in this age of digitally altered voices and images.

Okay, so the reason I bring this up is that I was “scavenging” entertainment at YouTube over the weekend, searching (as it happens) for videos involving the word “temple.” I do that sometimes, just pick a word or phrase at random or a word or phrase that holds some intrigue for me at the moment, and just see what comes up. As in all forms of scavenging, I can’t really predict what I’ll end up seeing. And, as in all forms of scavenging, I always learn something. So, because someone I know recently showed me the Zen temple where she goes to meditate, I had a hankering for some temple footage — all kinds of temples, I thought, all around the world. So I typed “temple” into the search thing, and one of the videos that popped up was this clip from Shirley Temple’s 1934 film Bright Eyes. In the film, Shirley plays a poor child whose mother works as a maid for a rich family. The rich family’s daughter Joy (played very well by fellow child actress Jane Withers) is incredibly obnoxious. In this clip, Shirley is taking out the trash and, little scavenger that she is, finds a doll in the bin that has clearly been thrown away by spoiled Joy.

“Why, you poor little thing,” exclaims Shirley, picking up and cradling the doll. “You must have cracked up. You should be in the hospital.” This is a reference to her father, a pilot who has “cracked up” — that is, crashed.

Joy, bicycling nearby, spots Shirley with her new find.

“Hey,” Joy snarls, “that’s my doll.”

“Well,” Shirley points out in true scavenger fashion, “I just found her here.”

“You can’t have her,” Joy cries, seizing the doll from Shirley’s arms and spanking it viciously.

“If you give her to me,” Shirley reasons, “I’ll take care of her. I’ll wash her face and make her some clothes and ever’thing.”

“You can’t have her,” Joy repeats. “You wanna know why? Because I’m gonna kill her.” And now, in a scene that I had no idea would affect me so strongly, Joy tears the doll to pieces, finally flinging the shreds to the ground and skipping away in her perky pink dress, chanting “Happy happy happy day” as Shirley stands by the trash, her expression containing the angst and insight of the ages. That’s it up there in the picture.

You HAVE to see this.

Beach-Scrap Sculptures Thrill Some, Irk Others

September 5, 2009 at 10:20 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

148406_w407Some New York State scavengers are doing exactly what I’ve always dreamed of doing. It’s part of my lifelong beachcomber fantasy. But not everyone appreciates their creativity, as Erin Schultz reports in the Riverhead News-Review:

“For years now, two displays of ‘driftwood art’ on local Long Island Sound beaches — complete with beach huts and collections of memorabilia like discarded sandals, bikini tops and Barbie dolls have wowed passersby — or at least made them turn their heads.

“Both displays, one located on an isolated stretch of Reeves Beach in Riverhead and the other on a higher-traffic section of Bailie Beach in Mattituck, have guest books containing signatures from people all around the world. And for both of the men who continue to cultivate their driftwood creations, the commentary in these books has been nothing but positive.

“Up until recently, that is.

“To Ed Flanagan of Mattituck, the display on Bailie Beach is a ‘monstrosity.

“‘This collection of driftwood and garbage may be considered art by its builder,’ he wrote. ‘But in fact, it is an eyesore, a magnet for local children and an accident waiting to happen. The structure is unsound, an arsonist’s dream and a serious fire hazard.’

“The creator of the Bailie Beach display is Garret Cutler. He’s spent the last five years placing dozens of pieces of driftwood in the sand, curving them this way and that outside his home overlooking the Sound.

“Some logs look like people. One is clothed in a bikini top. Another serves as the body for a toy horse head. A bamboo hut sits next to all this, and Mr. Cutler and his friends often relax under its shade. And a circle of upright driftwood logs called the “Sanctuary” houses a bench, a bucket of Barbie dolls and the guest book Mr. Flanagan decided to sign early last month.

“‘I don’t want trouble,’ Mr. Cutler said after reading Mr. Flanagan’s comments. ‘It would be heartbreak for me to have to give this up.’

“Riverhead resident John Gadzinski [depicted above in photo by John Neely] and his girlfriend, Tee Hadley, have spent the last four years cultivating a driftwood beach hut between two boulders on Reeves Beach in Riverhead — land along the Sound that was recently acquired by the Peconic Land Trust.

“‘Welcome to John and Tee’s Beach Hut,’ reads the sign at the entrance. ‘Please enjoy, but do not destroy.’

“Mr. Gadzinski, a 62-year-old employee of the Southampton Golf Club, said he’s spent only a night or two in the hut, which incorporates a tiny living room and bedroom — but nobody, including himself, has ever tried to live there.

“License plates from different states that Mr. Gadzinski has collected over the years line the walls of the tiny enclosure.

“‘Some are mine off my vehicles, and some people brought others from out of state,’ he said. ‘The kids love it.’

“He said that visitors often leave sandals, bottles of bug spray, beach glass and seashells to enhance the display. They also occasionally help decorate a nearby ‘driftwood tree’ with buoys from old boats.

“‘People have been really receptive to it,’ Mr. Gadzinski said.

“John and Tee’s Beach Hut does not have electricity or water, nor does Mr. Cutler’s creation. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Mr. Flanagan, a 63-year-old retiree of the Air Force and Grumman Aerospace Company who often runs on Bailie Beach for its natural beauty.

“‘It is a curiosity, but I don’t think it should be here,’ he said of Mr. Cutler’s Sanctuary. ‘It’s not safe. It could fall down … My concern is that there are more and more of these things going up, and it just gets me annoyed. Besides, don’t you need a permit for a bungalow?’

“Southold Town Councilman and former Trustee Al Krupski said he was not aware of Mr. Cutler’s creation, but he said that if it qualified as a ‘structure,’ as defined under town code, it would need a permit.

“‘But if it’s something innocuous like driftwood art … It’s hard to say without looking at it,’ Mr. Krupski said.

“In Riverhead, Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale said that as long as the beach displays are above the high water mark, it’s not disturbing public land.

“He added that since no one lives in Mr. Gadzinski’s creation, it’s considered temporary, so a permit is not required by the town.

“In defiance of claims made by Mr. Flanagan in Mattituck, Mr. Cutler said that his shack and sculptures are well above the mean high tide mark.

“Though he said he’s not a sculptor or visual artist by trade, Mr. Cutler, a Massachusetts native and a financial advisor in Manhattan, said he is a beach bum and environmentalist by nature. It was while walking on the beach that he started to wonder what to do with all the unattended wood washed ashore, he said.

“‘I began to see forms, scenes and beings in the wood,’ he said.

“Soon, Mr. Cutler found himself traveling the beach with his dog, collecting the wood to display as art. He said that everything else displayed with the wood — the dolls, chairs and clothing — was also found on the beach.

“‘There are some macabre scenes with the dolls,’ he said. ‘But it’s a joke. It’s a display of exuberance.’

“Born and raised in Riverhead, Mr. Gadzinski said he has always visited that particular spot on Reeves Beach to fish, swim or just get away from it all.

“After a ‘good winter storm’ about five years ago, he said he filled a bucket with nails, drove his pickup truck up and down the beach and “just went to it.”

“‘It’s an ongoing beach cleanup,’ he said of his hut. ‘All of the wood that we found had been washed up on the beach. [The beach hut] is not hurting anything.’

“Though he’s not yet seen it, Mr. Cardinale said that Mr. Gadzinski’s work sounds like art — and a good way to recycle driftwood.

“But, he added, not everybody is going to like what they see when they pass by.

“‘Some might argue that this isn’t the most attractive thing they’ve ever seen, but some also argue that the Mona Lisa isn’t attractive,’ Mr. Cardinale said. ‘It sounds like a creative recycling project for the driftwood, and it probably enhances the beach for everyone.'”

I want to see the “macabre scenes with dolls”!!!

Texas Trash Houses

September 3, 2009 at 11:44 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

29233717Today’s New York TImes has a story about 64-year-old gray-ponytailed Texas scavenger-architect Dan Phillips, who with his wife Marsha helms the Phoenix Commotion, a confab committed to building low-cost, low-income housing with salvaged materials such as license plates, bones, bottles, wine corks, scrapwood and DVDs … or, as the Times calls it, “trash”:

“To him, almost anything discarded and durable is potential building material. Standing in one of his houses and pointing to a colorful, zigzag-patterned ceiling he made out of thousands of picture frame corners, Mr. Phillips said, ‘A frame shop was getting rid of old samples, and I was there waiting.’

“So far, he has built 14 homes in Huntsville, which is his hometown, on lots either purchased or received as a donation. A self-taught carpenter, electrician and plumber, Mr. Phillips said 80 percent of the materials are salvaged from other construction projects, hauled out of trash heaps or just picked up from the side of the road….

“While the homes are intended for low-income individuals, some of the original buyers could not hold on to them. To Mr. Phillips’s disappointment, half of the homes he has built have been lost to foreclosure — the payments ranged from $99 to $300 a month. Some of those people simply disappeared, leaving the properties distressingly dirty and in disrepair. ‘You can put someone in a new home but you can’t give them a new mindset,’ Mr. Phillips said….

“Phoenix Commotion homes lost to foreclosure have resold to middle-class buyers who appreciate not only their individuality but also their energy efficiency, which is also part of Mr. Phillips’s construction philosophy.”

The Phoenix Commotion’s mission statement affirms a commitment to landfill reduction: “While an exact percentage is difficult to achieve, a reasonable estimate would be that 10% of the average landfill waste-stream consists of usable building material. Reclamation is practically impossible once these materials reach the landfill, because of the immense liability involved. Municipal lawsuits tend to be large, and last for years. Most municipalities have simply forbidden salvage activity, to avoid possible lawsuits. There are, however, strategies for reclamation of materials before reaching such finality.”

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