Stopped by the delightful Last Word Books in OlyWa (Olympia, Washington) – one of my faves in the world and holds loads of memories for me, as well as curates the “Uncle Weed Collection of Cannabis Books” (unofficial name). The location is onto the 4th in downtown Oly and is laden with both trad lit and all sorts of grassroots publications including from their in-house Last Word Press. Oh years ago they purchased the inventory of famed Port Townsend anarchistic publisher Loompanics iirc.
The proprietor Sky Cosby is as eclectic and energetic as they come running bookshop, publishing imprint/press, also circus activities, perma-culture homesteading and other renegade community activities and initiatives. Rather remarkable fella indeed.
As the cover implies, the handmade (not by me obv) was purchased in Nepal. Inside the papers are thick and tactile and hearty enough to support plenty of glued-in times. The time to fill came during a trip to Eastern Canada – life was confusing and i had no grounding whatsoever (granted i am fairly used to this sensation) so i went looking for a home. I visited Montréal, Quebec City, Halifax, St. John’s, Cape Breton and Moncton – in each city, i stayed in an shared apartment and attempted to live as though i lived there. This means, walking to grocery store and post office, finding book shops, cafe, coffee shops, looking up rental/purchase prices, exploring neighbourhoods, visiting parks and markets… in all to see if i could “fit there”. I did a slightly more touristy activity in each place – a museum (Montreal Forum, Tintin in QC, Citadel in Halifax, out Cape Spear and Signal Hill in St. John’s…). Also Canada Day in Halifax and St Jean de Baptiste day in QC. I travelled by combination of trains, ferries (including Dartmouth and overnight Nfld to NS ferry), highway busses, and occasional plane, as well as utilizing public transport in each city including from the airport.
Along the way, i documented the towns with my usual assortment of ticket stubs, news clippings, brochure scraps, scribbled notes, addresses, biz cards, stickers, coasters and even a few cloth patches.
BTW, i didn’t find an ideal town for me – each place certainly had good things but no were a perfect fit for me. Big reason is my intolerance for cold and related rugged living. Just getting out and about is difficult for me ya see. Thought if i were to choose a place, it would be Moncton, NB.
When the “wheels fell off” and i hit the methaporical and literal wall wth my illness, i attempted to disappear to heal myself. This journey started in Vegas and SLC and Logan (Utah) where i saw my Mom for the last time. Then by various transport schemes which frankly i don’t recall (though there was a stop in Pacific, CA in there), i ended up in Thailand for a barrage of medical test and treatments and then to India where i lived in-patient in an Ayurveda clinic for several weeks, venturing out rarely. The journey continued in India to Auroville and was from then on thwarted by unexpected tragic circumstance.
This notebook was a from brother Bob from a Japanese 100 yen shop. The paper is thin but robust and the journal comes with a string to hold it all together which pleases me as i can bundle the whole assortments of oddments up. By oddments i mean stickers, cards, clippings, tickets, appointment cards, scribblings of poetry, musings, annotations, signatures from strangers, paper scraps of all sort.
This book was assembled in a real tough stretch of time – medically and mentally. A summer in which i came close to “giving up” – the details are still too real and painful so instead i’ll tell you this:
This book was a 100 yen store gift from brother Bob and/or Mom and a great layout, size and heft for my usage. To try to keep myself motivated and cheered up, i filled with bits of inspiration: photos of me and others with smiles, scraps of mantras, colourful things from events, brochures and activities going on around the city i was living at the time (Victoria, BC). There isn’t a chronology or narrative per se, just items old and new and lost and found which made me sorta smile. I was really trying to improve and instead fell apart. Badly, i’m still here though. #survived.
This little notebook-sized booklet was perhaps over-worked and as such, began falling apart but i couldn’t resist the metal elephants on the vertical layout journal with tactile paper within.
As i fill up these notebooks in “real-time” while roaming (always looking for glue sticks and scissors), i needed a new book anyhow and there it was.
Anyhow, used from Thailand (where it was purchased) through Philippines to collect various bits and pieces of paper items: in this case, i developed a collection of wi-fi passcode slips from hotels and coffeeshops – tiny like fortune cookie fortunes – as well as snippets of poetry, clippings from maps, brochures and newspapers, and other breadcrumbs to retrace steps and recollect where i was or had visited. This was a foggy time for me.
This leather-bound beauty was a gift, long waiting for the right time to come into service. Finally, after lingering for too long, this mighty handmade (just not by me, obv) was pressed into purpose to gather and curate travel annotations and ephemera (tickets, snippets, stickers, postcards, brochure clipping, bits of maps and the like) on a long ramble from Gabriola Island BC, to Adelaide Australia, to Japan (Kyoto, Okayama, Sakura), and then into a suitcase in storage in Victoria, Canada, awaiting another chance to share secrets.
In the meanwhile, a few sample pages for your perusal… my lil nieces helped me snap the pics.
This oversized bonanza of goodness started life as a hitch-hiking themed board game, complete with funny names for various cities, and then, after various knives, scissors, drills, and glue, became a scrapjournal filled with items from Grateful Dead 50th anniversary shows in Santa Clara, CA and Chicago, IL.
This trip was a “big deal” for my as part of my healing process from a chronic and complex consortium of diseases and i pre-populated with all sorts of little inspiration pick-me-ups to keep me trucking on.
The end result is bulging with thick items including programs from each day of the concerts, dried flowers, envelopes of treats, and also includes set lists, messages and signatures from various conspirators, and other new pals met along the way, along with loads of stickers, sketches, road poetry, postcards, and a few sketches by others.
Oh, the edges are finished with hockey tape and a page from a Japanese manga schoolbook. It is huge and heavy and joyful. A few pages shared here for your amusement.
Hand-sewn (in Japanese-esque style) with hemp twine assembling board-game for a backer-board and binding support, a hefty block of colourful cardstock, and delightful Audrey Hepburn (as Natasha Rostof in hollywood rendition of Tolstoy’s War and Peace) from calendar paper for a cover. Finished with some Chinese Joss paper and blue handmade washi.
Took to Jamaica and filled with scheme, dreams, musings, lyrics and the like.
My pal in Indonesia had a lovely guestbook he made with me for his boutique diving resort and shisha lounge (pictured elsewhere in this archive), alas a fire in the bar took it away. So I humbly pitched-in to make a fresh one from available materials.
In this case, a manila airmail envelope for a cover, a clip-board for a backer, some lousy binding tape and ribbon to try to hold the whole block together. The block was certificate paper made for school award, hearty and decorative.
Added a variety of cancelled international postage stamps, a few stickers, and instructions in sparkly paint maker, plus a few social media related logos with water colour pencils. Oh yeah, a few inky stamps too. I had a helper named Tymur for this project.
What follows are public telephones created in a time when phones did not roam freely and in pockets.
To make a call, one would either enter a specially-created booth (or box), or simply stand close by as the receivers were tethered to the phone unit by a short cord, then insert a variety of coins depending on the location called (local, domestic or international) or in some cases, use a purpose-made phone card, or even a credit card (though doing so often exposed one to fraudulent actors).
Perhaps you have already imagined the unsanitary nature of sharing a phone handset (placed next/close to ear and mouth of course) with strangers – though perhaps this increased “herd immunity” despite being rather unpleasant. Note that oftentimes the coin return slots were checked for forgotten change but the miner was surprised to find discarded chewing gum, or even-less-savoury items, instead.
This gallery is simply random examples, captured “in the wild” in various locations globally. Additional volumes of similar collections provide additional examples – both international and domestic (to Canada / USA), as well as hotel house phones.