Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Retiring the Jacket

This is the jacket I have worn on every roadtrip for the past several years. I first started making these roadtrips, during which I would travel around the country making photographs and videos and music, circa 2003. I take one or two trips a year still; usually one extended trip, one shorter trip, and a few quickies when I can, in between.

I first started collecting lapel pins during a roadtrip circa 2005. I started to visit, and often camp at, National Parks, state parks in various states, and other scenic wonders. I don't collect many kinds of things, but I now make it a habit to acquire a lapel pin from every significant place I visit that offers one, usually in their gift store or ranger station. So I have a large collection of pins from National Parks, state parks, historical sites, and other travel locales.

I've made it a habit of pinning the ones I care about most on my jacket, as a sort of visual narrative of places I've been and things I've seen. Some are kitschy, others are profound. This is by no means my full collection, which includes probably six times as many pins as seen here. It's just the highlights. The rest of my lapel pin collection is on my dresser, at home, in boxes set aside to contain them.

A selection of favorites:

A Frank Lloyd Wright pin from Taliesin in Wisconsin. A melted watch from the Dali Museum in Florida. Lost Maples State Park in the Texas hill country. Great Basin National Monument in Nevada. The Hwy 51 pin, which commemorates "the loneliest highway in the world," the stretch of Hwy. 51 that runs across Nevada from Utah to Reno, and along which there are stretches where there no towns, no services, no nothing, for hundreds of miles at a time. I earned that pin; I've driven that stretch of Hwy. 51 two and a half times. A pin representing the cave formations of Mammoth Caves in Kentucky. A couple of favorite state parks in the Redwoods regions of northern California, places I've camped in all conditions, places of sublime beauty. The ART! pin my sister gave me, to humorously remind me both of my name and my calling as an artist.

Some of my favorite pins to collect are those that reproduce benchmark medallions placed at significant sites throughout the country by the United States Geological Survey. These are circular pins that exactly reproduce the benchmarks, many of which I have stood next to, where they are cemented to the ground by the USGS on sites of particular scientific and scenic interest, such as Devil's Tower, Wyoming.

I am retiring this jacket, now, because it has become threadbare, worn, and frayed. It served me well, keeping me warm in both mountain winds and ocean breezes, and has begun to wear out. I bought a new jacket to replace it, a month ago, before the start of the next roadtrip. I haven't transferred any of my favorite pins off the old jacket to the new, as yet; and I might not at all. I might just retire this jacket, which is full of memories, to the closet, and start over with the new jacket. Let the world begin anew, let each roadtrip begin from zero, and let the new jacket acquire its own stories and images and lapel pins as I continue to travel in years to come.

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Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

I used to be more attached to clothes than I am now. Nowadays I wear the first thing that comes out of the wardrobe just about unless I’m actually going out of the flat – then I make a wee bit of an effort, but just a wee one – but I’ve not worn any badges since I was in my early twenties. I had a couple of favourites, a round one showing the cover the Dark Side of the Moon and a rectangular one that said “Deep Purple” only the writing was such a deep purple that it was almost illegible against the black background and just looked like a black rectangle. I had a few others – I wore a sheriff’s badge for a while – but that was it. They still please me and until I was 50 were the only thing I wore that could be considered jewellery. Now I have a stainless steel pendant, like a dog tag, with the number 11 on it – a present from my wife on our 11th wedding anniversary.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

I wear a couple of silver necklaces every day—I feel naked without them—but these pins are the only other jewelry I ever wear. They're not really jewelry, though, more like the badges outdoorsmen wear after climbing a mountain.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Glenn Ingersoll said...

At Disney World they sell special lanyards for pin collections.

My favorite sight at Disney World Downtown: the athletic youths dressed up in skin-tight reindeer outfits bouncing on their spring-stilts. Loved the little upturned tail on the tush!

9:50 PM  
Blogger Glenn Ingersoll said...

It was just before Christmas - hence the reindeer costumes ...

9:50 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

The things one learns about in one's travels. . . .


They have lanyards in the Boy Scouts, too, for all the merit badges, but all the merit badges I would want to go for I'm sure the Scouts would reject.

10:20 PM  

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