Monday, November 26, 2007

Stolen Secrets and Other Misdemeanors

I think I've found a kindred Junk Thief named Square America that I appreciate being introduced to by Gavin Elster, a bit of a Junk Thief himself in his ability to cull the most bizarre and obscure postings on YouTube and other cultural artifacts on the web.

Square America features several themes of amateur photography, generally "candid" snapshots dating back to the late 19th century. Any fiction writer looking for inspiration should take a glance at them, such as the party photos which hint at mysterious, potentially dangerous behaviors without giving away too many secrets. Some are disturbing, some are just plain weird, and many more are outrageously funny.

Most of them feel like stolen secrets, mysterious portals into lives we have not experienced and asking us to provide our own context.

Your assignment, class, is to share your description in 500 words or less of what you think is happening in and around these two samples.

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16 Comments:

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Dave said...

When the US entered the Great War, little 5-year-old Gustav told the local recruiter he was 18 so he could join the famous 133rd Deer Straddler Brigade. Like many preschoolers in the service, he didn't have enough money for his own helmet and was forced to use a small lamp shade, which he shared with twelve other members of his batallion on a rotating schedule. His deer would later attempt to save Gustav's life by heroically throwing itself on a live "potato masher" grenade. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful, and they were both stuffed for this photo.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Dave - Superb story, sir! Stirring and tragic at the same time. I think the top photo could likely involve the Vietnam War and an attempt to dodge the draft, but, well, I don't want to steer anyone's creativity!

 
At 5:42 PM, Blogger Joy Keaton said...

After the boys lost the bet that they could pass for two of the older Osmond Brothers, Betty and Veronica grabbed their Toni Home Permanent kits and went to work! Much hilarity ensued as the fellows went about town the next day looking neither like the Osmonds nor the Jackson Five but more like the Cowsills after a hard night of sticking their wet fingers into electrical sockets. Betty and Veronica later dumped the two rascally thrill seekers and started their own beauty salon which is still in operation today - though they never have gotten the knack of giving a good perm.

 
At 5:45 PM, Blogger Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Joy - Another A+ student! I may have to make Monday's my class assignment day with a "what the story behind this picture" posts.

 
At 6:06 AM, Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

In the top photo, the girls are helping beautify the boys before the prom. Usually they wouldn't bother, but they've just purchased many hair products and since their own hair is already coiffed, they talked their boyfriends into the process.

Second photo: Christmas pic, circa WWI. Deeply strange, but I do like it that the mount is a reindeer. Classy.

An exhibit just opened (at the National Gallery) of family snapshots. That's my kind of show ... can't wait to go check it out.

 
At 6:18 AM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...

It was poetic that they were being groomed by hand for critters after sleeping under the stars, the bridges and on stained matresses in Paris. He and the companion he met on the byway both had mustaches. Only his worked. His friend was not as fetching as he. It had to work that way. Not that it worked. They fought; they spat. And here, stopping for rest at a convent, the nuns stuck their fingernails into the unkempt hair and snapped away. Little did he know that the Poloroid the nuns snapped would end up in a scrapbook on a marble credenza next to the Infant of Prague. Little did he know that, over the years, the color of his snap shirt in the photograph would fade quickly to the Magic Color. This color was very close in hue to the rose vestments for Gaudete Sunday. It was one of the outfits for the Infant that the nuns had lost (or it had been stolen by a little girl who dressed her cat with it). For both young men it was their first relationship, but one of them forgot to write.

 
At 6:27 AM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

I haven't had my morning jolt of coffee yet, so I'll submit my assignmet later...but I think you've shown me my new favorite site. (You're awfully good at that!)

These remind me of the Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players...also noteworthy in strangeness.

 
At 8:01 AM, Blogger Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Reya - That sounds like a good show. Please take Polaroids of the Polaroids.

Bryce - Yes, I thought they were nuns too, probably from the order of St. Olive. Which man do you consider to be more fetching?

Jill - We do look forward to your essay, but know that you'll lose five points for each day you are late.

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Scot said...

In picture number 1, the two men are planning to infultrate a kabutz in Israel and need curly hair to pass as natives....
In picture number 2, Canada's youngest Mounty poses in his new summer uniform

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger m00nchild said...

you realize i'm hoping to grow my hair out just like mustached men in the top image. now i have something i can take to m y hair stylist. she's 25 and has no clue what i'm talking about.

 
At 4:48 PM, Blogger Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Scot - First nuns, now a kabutz? Holy Sidhartha!

m00nchild - With that new hair and the Lee Hazlewood 'stache you will have more mojo than any bloke in town. Nino de la luna caliente!

 
At 6:51 PM, Blogger Gavin Elster said...

Top Photo:
The year is 1967. The Summer of Love now fully engorged reaches Casper, Wyoming. Friends Valerie and Marla decide to throw their first swing party after returning from their "Trip" to San Fran. Val known for most of her 20's and 30's as "the one who looks like Karen Valentine" and Marla later known as "the one who looks like Lindsey Wagner but puts out like Lyle" kept two acid laced sugarcubes each for a special occasion. Looks like Thanksgiving was just that occasion. The two decide to place the tabs atop a batch of Marla's homemade cupcakes. The trouble is there are six cupcakes and only four "good" ones. According to Valerie the whole evening was ruined by Marla who put two regular cubes on the non-acid treats. Compounded with the fact Doug and Steve, the two men with the best fashion sense in Casper and "roommates" eat two cupcakes each the evening took a downward turn. Before the turkey was out of the oven it was clear Marla and Val were going to have to babysit the two skyhigh lads.

Bottom picture:
"I recall the smell most of all. It was something my stepfather was very proud of. The deer shattered both of the round ford headlights and dented the chrome but the deer was unharmed. Th only thing missing was its life. He threw it into the back of the truck and by the time he arrived home it was stiff from rigor and smelled like whiskey from my stepfather. By the time this photo was taken it was decomposing. The head became loose and floppy. It took all my strength to hold the head up and choke back the vomit."

 
At 8:11 PM, Blogger Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Gavin - Both of those stories are so groovy. How fitting that this San Franciscan will be in Wyoming this weekend, albeit in Jackson not Casper. Perhaps I'll try that cupcake lacing and hair work that you suggested. By the way, do you care to divulge the identity of the "I" character in the second story.

And thanks for introducing me to Square America which I think will inspire my weekly interactive portion of Junk Thief. We may branch out from creative writing to knitting, water polo and hide the weenie in the blanket games.

 
At 9:31 PM, Blogger Gavin Elster said...

I = Michael G. Wilson. (name the stepfather!)

 
At 3:51 AM, Blogger kimy said...

how fun! unfortunately no time to write an essay - I'll have to audit today!

the second picture may have been taken at one of those santa-training schools?

 
At 9:21 PM, Anonymous The Angry Young Man said...

I LOVE Square America! I stole one of their images and put it on my moo cards.

 

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