Friday, February 28, 2014

Stories from the Mission... bit 57

   Just got back from my walk, and while most of the guys head towards the Loop and flashy, I explore in every direction. This time I went down 16th street to Halsted and found that there are art galleries all along there! I'll have to try and get my stuff in them somehow. That artist group, the Lampreys, was located down that way I think... did I write about them yet?
   Back in 1990 or so I was into building spaceships out of Legos. Big ones. The first one was about 2 foot long, and cracked in half when I tried to pick it up. I got more focused on the structure and built the next one bigger and better. I called it the Pangea, named after the super continent when all the continents where connected. In the early 90's I was living in Bellwood, a third floor apartment with Sharon, and getting as stoned as I could, all of the time. So, I build this 2 and half foot long spaceship out of Legos and get the great idea of video taping me crashing into the floor to watch it in slow motion. I do like 5 hits off my 5 foot bong, set up the camera and crash it, loudly! I forgot to tell Sharon... she freaks out a bit from the next room. I laugh and tell her what I did, walking over to the camera... and get that sinking feeling when I realize I also forgot to record the crash. ARRRRGH!
   When I get an idea in my head, it's pretty near impossible for me to let it go. I start building the next Lego ship, bigger and better. I name this one after my favorite unsung hero of the 85 Bears, Dan Hampton. This one is about 3 foot long, has side pods, guns all over it and small detachable fighters. About a week later, I clear the furniture from a corner of our apartment, set a small scrap of paper on the carpet as a target and start the video camera recording. Double checked that this time. Off screen you can hear me say, "We entering the planets atmosphere, we're going to crash sir!" trying to sound like Scotty, "No No NOOOOOOOooo! AAAAAA!!" The ship enters the scene form the right at a steep angle, misses the scrap by inches, and positively explodes on impact, just like you'd hope it would! Pieces fly off, ricocheting off the walls, bricks crumble under the simulated mass... so awesome! I still wonder what the people downstairs thought about that noise... LOL!
   So, now I am hooked on building bigger and badder Lego spaceships. Sharon was studying to be a nurse and I didn't like going out to bars and stuff without her, so I spent a lot of time on the fleet. I was working as a mechanic at the Walgreens warehouse just down the street, so I could afford to buy buckets of bricks. By the seventh ship, the Dynonochus, I had quit drinking and getting high for a period, and had also developed several techniques in constructing large Lego structures. First tip: Buy a large plastic garbage container and a king sized sheet. Lay the sheet out on the floor where you plan on spreading the legos, this will keep them cleaner and aids as a quick pick up at the end. By grabbing the corners of the sheet and lifting in one fell swoop, place them into the plastic container for storage. BAM. You go from a million scattered bricks to slid into closet when company stops by in less than 3 minuets.
  The structure of the Dynonochus, at over 7 foot long, had to be strong, as I don't glue them together. I found that by making an elongated pyramidal shape, making sure that any gaps of one row are spanned by the next, works best. I made a double layered version of this as a test, thinking it would use too many bricks. When I saw how solid it was, I just bought enough bricks, lol.
   I video tapped the entire build of the Dynonochus, from the deconstruction of the ship before it, the Vendeta, to the cleaning of the bricks, sorting of them by color and size, all the way to the day it was done. I also kept a note book, documenting each day. it took a month, 40 hours a week to complete, as I worked my normal job hours.
   When I got it done, I bought more king sized sheets to use as a back drop and a good set of lights for filming. I set in on a cement pillar I had, set a sheet across it to keep dust off it and went to bed, looking forward to filming it the next day. I was awoken by a loud, sickening crash early in the morning. Seems the cats where playing and somehow dragged it off the pillar... and there it lay, all twisted up in the sheet, mangled. No, I didn't kill the cats. I kind of went into denial for the next week, stepping over it going about my days. Then I thought, no... if I want to be able to market giant Lego spaceships to rich folks, I need to know how to fix them. The idea was, if you're a multi millionaire, how many Lego kits can you buy your kid? Buy them a giant Lego spaceship!
   So I sat down and made a plan. I realized that the original design had gotten too long, that it would fit out of the door of my apartment. I needed to make a way of disconnecting the engine section from the front, and I needed a way of transporting it all. I think I bought $100 worth of the parts I needed and started the fixing up. The main castle with it's double pyramid construction had held up pretty good, with just the aft engine area had snapped off. I felt like I was studying an airplane crash, going through the wreckage. I think it was rebuilt in about two weeks, about an extra foot in length. Luckily, the 144 Christmas tree lights in the engines still worked fine. I then constructed out of plywood two carrying cases that it would all fit into like a puzzle, safe and secure. I made a way to display it more securely at work from an old industrial fan base that weighs around 60 pounds. It has a plate of steel on top as a cradle and two geared motors that can tilt it end to end and side to side.
   I then took all the hours of video and edited together and set it to the music, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" as a 17 minute documentary. I took that video, along with sections of other Lego projects on it, and sent off 35 copies to various art galleries all over the place. They all rejected me. it doesn't matter how cool it might be, with no track record, you don't exist. 
   Fortunately, a guy by the name of Pedro Velez was at the Chicago museum of modern art asking if they had any wild video tapes he could use in an art project he was working on. They gave him mine... and that was how I was 'discovered'. lol, more on this next time folks...

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