This blogger will leave it to the powers that be and the writers of eleemosynary encomiums to address the world stage and those figures who have shuffled off this mortal coil or otherwise been shuffled off depending on the circumstances. Rather, what does it matter in a winter-gray weekend where my tasks are at hand, and these all are attempts to remain above the financial waters, study for extra credit, or otherwise am engaged in a personal life where history can flick it self off far and wide, it doesn’t matter the temperature of the sun or the distance to G/g/o/_/d/s/es/ess or accomplished dead person when the water bill is overdue and they are going to shut it off at once if full payment is not made by such-and-such a date.
There is dark rumor in Fort Mudge, distant murmurings, and whispers made by certain woodsmen. The creek runs dark, the movie theater is closed most of Sunday, and the sidewalks are again quiet since yesterday was some sort of Wintertide celebration, consisting primarily of bland holiday-neutral music and raffles for consumer goods heretofore unafordable for the vast majority of the denizens of the area who while they are certainly saving a lot of money by shopping solely at WalKMart, there must still be some shortage of cash for some reason… like they work at WalKMart, for the crowds heaved at the sign of a winner and there was a lot of talk about this ongoing raffle such as the numbers being read out and the description of the goods echoed about the town, some parody of Jackson’s The Lottery, “4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 , a set of matching dishes for service for 8 from WalKmart.”
Those who collect inside heated buildings, those who look out for educated people of means in order to offer them one-of-a-kind paintings, antiques, and goodly sundries say that we are about to be invaded by Makers. That a Makers community is to take itself up right in the center of town. Now, there are two ways of looking at The Makers.
1.5.a. Occupied America
The Makers movement represents a strange mixture of Post War Japan and far too many over-educated nimrods noddling about making artisan cheese and gluing bits of shit together in ironic ways and then taking pictures of it with their iDevice, putting that picture through an Instagraham filter so it looks like it was taken in 1967, and then post that on Etsy or some other moon unit zappa website of unfiltered cider and hand-made nipple rings at a price few can afford. In all, this movement represents the trinket stage of the economy, exactly where we bombed the Japanese back too in the W. W. Two. When I was young, my grandmother’s house was a temple of crap. Crap on top of crap. She was a horder of things great and small, from grand pianos to little useless things. Of these things, a good deal of the most useless and crappy had the imprint, “Made In Occupied Japan.” Toy cars with sharp edges, lamps that fell over in a slight wind, entire curio cabinets filled with smiling figures that would shatter if you even looked at them wrong. For my grandmother, the thought that anything of quality could come out of Japan was like saying anything good could again come out of Germany (this was years before Kraftwerk and Rammstein so cut my grannie some slack, eh). The production of most makers is a lot higher concept – hence the over-educated quality to their work – and is often made of reclaimed [your material here] found when they were [some trip you can never go on but they did] and made to [obscure bullshit na na na na I’m not listening] in order to promote local economies but otherwise is crap. In other words, dude/dudet could not get a job with an Anthro degree or cashed out early by selling some lines of code that runs the back end of a website that turns pictures you take with that fucking hand held computer made out of glass you call a “phone” and degrades them to look like a plastic Polaroid camera took them on a bad day and that person now sews together beads or glues typewriter keys to shit, or make lamps out of everyday he or she finds, like those lamps you tossed in the trash last night. Well, here they are, Makered, all makey makey with some deer bones hot glued to them and a lampshade made from either a) Reefer Madness poster or b) that other movie hipsters like. The makers are but a sad panacea of birch bark and cutting boards made from upcycled rail road ties to an economy that has become out of reach for so many and few of these activities will support the maker who moonlights as a cafe worker let alone create a meaningful economy for anyone. While action is more noble than inactivity, the thought that we can replace our old industrial economy by taking the castings, the shaving, and leavings of that industrial nation of ours and breaking out the craft sticks, colourful pipe cleaners, and duct tape and hand whittled pegs will not change our Corportist State and Neo-Con Capitalism and that when we few Makers have made and then sold to other Makers, that we will run out of our economic model since we have burned our way through the devolving and shrinking middle classes and cannot sell our twig lampshades to the working poor, a collection of poverty pigs who do not live in houses that afford such breakable items, and the rich who want blood diamond belly button jewelry and high-end couches covered in the skins of orphan puppies. It is a good try, but ultimately this movement will burn out like so many little petty movements.
Figure II. The Time of The Makers
That more and more people are doing it themselves and in some small way opting out of the economy-at-large and entering into smaller more informal markets is a sign that people are taking back their local economies and not waiting for Hope and Change from above or Occupy [storm or street here]. Now, there will still remain the WalKMart people, strange fat Jazzy-driving slobs that are like a United Colour Of Benetton except that Bennetton would not have enough fabric of a certain quality to cover the posteriors and kankles of those assembled munching bovine zombie-like consumers who think that China is part of the United States and their purchase saves them money and supports Merika and not some fascist-communistic oligarchy ruled by a class of people who share our genes but otherwise are culturally and spiritually The Borg. Makers wander about their local neighborhoods and source materials, often taking disposed of items and finding new uses for them. More people are finding that they cannot control the economy, that after Uncle O was elected and then sold us out to the bankers showing us that greed and corruption are post-racism, makes have taken Hope and Change back home to do it the. Makers turn off the TeeVee and turn to books and old craftspeople to keep traditional skills alive as well as creating new innovative products. Makers don’t take bank loans, they crowd-source. Money is drawn from networks of people, and the reward isn’t some interest rate or even a discount, but the connection to community and that each person who donates to a Kickstarter or other funding source will have a return on how strong their community grows and connects. This community is no longer that of traditional small towns or even well-connected cities, although Makers tend to cluster in places that look like Brooklyn, if they can’t afford actual Brooklyn. This community is not a neo-Amish, but takes advantage of 3D printers, laser cutters, and new tools in order to create new designs that merge old and new, finding value in certain traditions but not at the expense of new ideas. Damn. I could write copy like this all day….
I was across the river from Fort Mudge in the hamlet Whale Bone Cove at the only open cafe in ten miles… true we could call Dunkenstarbucks in Fort Mudge a cafe… but only when you pry my advanced degree from my cold dead hands…. It’s a Raceclassgender(tm) thing… In Whale Bone Cove one gets coffee surrounded by Etsy-like Brooklynites and perhaps actual Etsy and Brooklyn people. Next to the yoga posters and alternative music notifications I noticed an broadside for an event at the Basilica, a space that had once made asbestos cookies or cannon balls to be shot at the elderly back in the goode olde dayes. Seeing how there was time before my next appointment, I made my way down the actual thriving Main Street to the water front, once given over the The Poor in the 1960s and 1970s I assume as a boobie prize for racism and economic inequality and that then the waterfront still smelled like sulfur and poo. The entry fee was $3, just enough to weed out the WalKmart crowd but not so much that I would consider it would come out of my blow-and-whiskey budget nor did it stop the crowd of nice folk from packing the great hall. The crowd was mostly transplants and weekenders from Gothem and there was lot of earth tones, knitted things on women and guys with stubble and lot and lots of ski hats. It was a cold day, seasonal, which is strange since to say something fits a weather pattern is actually very revolutionary if not slightly antiquated idea given that the seasons are not quite what they should be – not red sky time, but along with most of our population the planet is no longer “neuro-typical.” The rugged industrial space space was filled with ambient music, the murmur of the crowd and the occasional sounds of dogs and children taken out of storage for the weekend. The space was divided into three sections. The primary space was given to hand-made items of various sorts. The secondary space was off to the side was filled with all manner of goods both crafts and market items. A space next to the door, however close to the entrance generally more discover-able after a walkabout was reserved for tables offering pesticide-free popcorn, grass-fed pork, and several piles of the usual green foodstuffs. Friendly girls behind the tables spoke to potential customers looking earthy in their natural fabric clothes dyed in tree bark and essential oils and their carefully manicured casual visage that was not so unkempt to actually smell or have tangled hair and split ends since we humans all sort of smell like the homeless if not properly sheltered at a dry 68-73 degrees and bathed daily. When the change comes, I will most miss hot water on demand and plentiful soap, no matter the formaldehyde carcinogenics our beauty products contain. Cancer of the butthole is well worth the lifetime of bleached toilet paper exposure.
The items were friendly and commerce blended with socialization – it is a small area and I knew several people attending or vending. In truth, these are my people… Except that I can’t always afford to maintain my membership in this facet of society, nor can I well afford the household needed in order to properly house the hand made lamp made of old spindles and shades of reused local maps, the cutting boards of natural wood where the shape of the tree was incorporated into the style of surface so nothing was just sliced flat. Large iron-clad end tables made from barn beams selling for more than I paid for my used pick up truck, jewelry that I would break or loose before gifting it, and very wonderfully designed accent items that would really bring my Salvation Army/Goodwill and milk crate furniture to life. In all, I wanted to eat every handmade-blended-grass-fed-everything. I would have little use for any of the items, but I would like to afford that house where one had to take care of the furnishings and where I can sit in a white bathrobe sipping coffee and looking at the lake with some slightly blonde, not too old but appropriately aged consort who also is sipping coffee in a linen bathrobe and one arm is around me – and I have stubble… and look something like Anderson Cooper meets George Clooney. But, I don’t, and I can’t, and I play the cards in my hand as best as I can and make do with life as much as I can and for me the used clothing I wear and the junk furniture I haul about from place to place I live work for me. If the economy, this Maker economy, relied on me, it would be hard pressed to survive. And, strangely, I am the audience, in part, we, those of us who enjoy the Maker Economy also are often Makers (some of us do it for our own needs) and often are just fine with older clothes, some repairs on the things we use, live in dignity but if there is a little dirt on the floor or a stain that just doesn’t come out, we don’t stress out. Not back-to-the-land, but slightly off center to the grid. This simple life would be OK, except that the world about us wants high rent, increased costs, increased complexity, and every tab the corporations are running up, we have to pay for. It is hard to see how we can do this exchanging bits of home-made jam and remnants from the old Victorian Industrial world or the old Agricultural America hammered into an iDevice stand or clever kitchen décor. Are these Makers, then, a future we are all marching towards, at least those of us degree-educated (or social-emotional-political equivalent) who have enough free space and time to learn barrel making or button hole hoop tying.
I left the Maker’s Faire empty handed. I jumped into my 12 miles-to-the-gallon truck, did the little trick to make it start, and went back to my place in order to finish up the rest of my weekend doing the work I don’t have time for since I work all week in order to pay my bills and every month break even.