Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Poverty


Or smarts, I’m not sure which. This improvised mud flap was a fine surprise last time I was on Fourth Avenue. It supports local culture, local cuisine, and upcycling. The carbon load is trivial, the fabricator keeps up his skills, and he, I presume it’s he because of the bike, doesn’t have to make the money to buy a mud flap or find the time to shop for one. And he probably made it in front of TV.

Pablo Picasso said something to the effect that the first time you make something, it’s going to look weird. The people who come after you are the ones who make the same thing look slick. The poet Langston Hughes said something similar, that awkwardness is a sign of strength.

There’s a PBS series called Everyday Edisons that Channel 9 uses to fill Tavis Smiley’s dawn slot on Monday. It’s illuminating to watch a product develop from the beer-can fender stage to a glossy info-mercial or strategic shelf position in a big-box chain.

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