dumpster find of the week: bikevision, trashvision

It’s spring, which means people have started doing spring cleaning which means the trash is piled high with all the stuff that has been re-categorized as junk for 2011. There have been clothes and there has been furniture and today there was even a two-foot-tall terracotta Buddha. And here I am, not having taken a single picture of any of it. Go figure.

But! Dumptser find of the week marches stoutly on without me. This week I got an e-mail from James of Bikevision with a bunch of pictures of his latest dumpster booty:

On top of all the stuff you can see in the pictures (and, by the way, that picture with all the red wire is of two complete sets of surround-sound speakers), he found a bunch of workout supplement vitamins, a fleece hat, a tube for a bike tire, window tint, and chocolate caramel crunch pop corn. And once again we can all bow our heads in silence at the startling fact that there is nothing left in this world that we won’t throw away. Even if it’s in perfect condition. Especially if it’s in perfect condition.

“This was one of my better scores,” James told me. “Add in the tote full of old collector Nascar items that I found at the curb just a few days ago and I’m ready to get a table at the local flea market.”

It sounded like James scavenged a lot, so of course I wanted to know how he got started. “Been dumpstering for as long as I can remember,” he told me. “When I was a young boy my family and i would go dive the local college dumpsters at the end of the year. We would get some great stuff. My grandfather ran a second hand store and we would take a lot of it there to sell, so it was pretty much a whole family affair.”

“As a young preteen my mother, grandmother, and aunt worked in the food trailers selling food at the local stock car track. My brother and I would walk below the bleachers picking up cans, at 10 cents a piece. Most race nights we could bring in at least $50 a piece in cans.”

“As I got older and it got harder to fit under the bleachers we started selling popcorn, cotton candy, and other stuff walking up and down in front of the bleachers. How I miss those days. I don’t dive much anymore but am starting to get back into it again. I forgot how fun it can be to find good stuff for free. I have no problems stopping along side the road for some scrap metal or anything that catches my eye.”

Anyone else been scavenging spring cleaning discards?

Wednesday March 30th 2011, 7:00 am 1 Comment
Filed under: conspiracies,dumpster diving,dumpster finds,freegan


recycling for the apocalypse: cart chair

The riders of the apocalypse will not arrive on horses, as is often assumed. No, their chariots will be welded together out of scrap metal and old shopping carts.

This particular steed—failing in Mad Max character though it is—I built as a birthday present. Inspired by what I had seen in Cologne during the tall bike building workshop, I came home, got out the angle grinder, and chopped off the front of a shopping cart that had been hanging around the Platz. It really isn’t more complicated than that. Slap on some paint, attach a cup holder and a sun umbrella, and you’ve got a sweet little rolling chair/beer cart. Or wedding party chariot, depending on your taste.

Monday March 28th 2011, 7:46 am 2 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,diy,recycling for the apocalypse,wagenplatz


on writing

I started writing my first novel when I was nine or ten years old. It was a horror story about a child with a stuffed dog who started talking to her, plotting things with her behind her worried mother’s back. I don’t remember much about it. I do remember my father telling me that he liked it, that it was nice and creepy, and that he was very sad, years later, when I told him I destroyed the journal it had been written on in one of my journal destroying rages (a storm that hits about once every ten years).

Recent events have led me to the conclusion that it is necessary for me to begin dabbling in fiction writing again. What this will mean for the rest of my writing, well, hell, I guess we’re all going to find that out together. What I’ve already found out though, through the course of the day, is that I’m rusty, though the springs remain in working order.

When I burnt out on fiction, well, that was in college. That was when I burnt out on a lot of things: Ridilin, Aderol, mary j, academia, writing. My senior year I took a travel writing class that inspired me, that reminded me that once upon a time I had liked writing. But by the end of my thesis and that year I was dreaming of raising peanuts and llamas in South America, of teaching English in the Marshall Islands, of anything that would get me far, far away from the barbed-wire-lined towers of all that was academic.

Instead I started a job proofreading at a local publishing company two weeks after graduation and quickly drowned my desire to write in tired computer-screen eyes and the extra commas in the layouts of custom health publications. When I got home I went running, and after I went running I fell into bed to read, too exhausted for creativity. (Sidenote: I find that my level of creativity drops the more sports I do. Running I can empty my mind. Thus emptied, nothing remains for the page.)

It was in Germany that I was at long last reunited with my desire to combine pen to paper in a meaningful fashion, and since then I’ve been riding the non-fictional train to glory. And yet, in a world so complicated, I wonder if non-fiction is really the answer, if fiction isn’t the more capable medium for dealing with the reality we face every morning when we open our eyes.

Friday March 25th 2011, 7:12 am 7 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,words, writing


dumpster find of the week: even more wooden boxes

I may have mentioned that I have a thing for old wooden boxes. Though I didn’t end up having space for these in my wagon this rennovation around, I’m holding onto them for the day I do. Attached to the wall, they’d make some pretty sweet little cabinets.

The box on the bottom left I found in the Frankfurt Sperrmüll (big trash left out on the curb). The shiny box crowning the pyramid came from the university big trash corral and remains, rather unfortunately, locked. (Time to learn lock picking.)

The slate gray box on the bottom right came from an abandoned school building in Mainz. (The same building in which I found these shoes.) Inside that box are first aid items dated 1934:

Wednesday March 23rd 2011, 9:59 am 7 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,dumpster diving,dumpster finds,freegan


a new garden bed: in progress

The day began with a sweatshirt and a thick wool sweater, but by noon I was down to one layer. What glorious fucking weather! Who says making small talk about the weather is boring? The weather is the most important thing there is. Because it was warm today we worked on the new garden bed. Because it was warm today I wore a t-shirt outside and felt euphoric. You know your culture has become completely disconnected from “the environment” when talking about the weather becomes taboo, something for old folks “with nothing better to talk about.” Pishaw.

The weather! It’s wonderful! Oh! Oh! Oh!

I’d started laying a little wall around the new bed space the day before, three bricks high. Today three of us hammered stakes into the ground and stapled chicken wire to each by way of a fence. It has yet to be tested, but so far appears to be hen-proof.

Afterward we laid cardboard over the entire surface (fuck off weeds), and the next couple of days will be filled with wheelbarrows full of sifted earth pushed back and forth between the new garden and the compost pile (my least favorite part of the process). This is my favorite way to make a raised bed, and the cardboard usually keeps the weeds out for one to two years afterward.

The crowning touch was the creepy doll head with moving eyes, forced onto the top of one of the fence poles to keep away the monsters. Unfortunately, I’ve heard monsters aren’t really scared of little blond girls. No, but when I stumble out of the wagon in the middle of the night to pee, I probably will be.

Tuesday March 22nd 2011, 7:55 am 4 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life,diy


it is spring, says the calendar

“You know it’s spring when the Bauwägler start lighting up the fire barrel again.” And so it’s been the past few weeks. Soggy boards dug out from beneath piles of leaves, clippings from the bush we fought back last week, boards saved for building projects that we’ve admitted will never happen, an old crib carted home from the pile of trash on the sidewalk outside of the kindergarten down the street, pallets used to shelter fire wood now beginning to rot: all of it lands in the fire barrel, and we crowd around it when the evening cools back down to almost-winter temperatures. At night wood stoves are grudgingly lit, and rooms warm after only a few small bits of scrap wood have been tossed on top of the kindling.

Life changes drastically as soon as the spring sun begins to shine. In the morning there are no fires to be lit; instead we meet around a wooden table placed to catch the morning sun and drink cup after cup of coffee as people crawl out of wagons one by one rubbing sleep from their eyes on the way to the bathroom wagon, on the way to our table, on their way to the stove to put on another pot.

All at once my whole life has moved outside. The little things that might keep me inside on a sunny day remain undone, and I cook with the door wide open, a black cat coming by to draw figure eights around my feet. Dishes can be done outside, and the rest can be forgotten. For now. For now what is important is the sun, the expulsion of the rot and kipple that have accumulated over the past year, the building up of new garden beds, the plugging up of newly discovered leaks. A frenzy of activity has overtaken us all; hibernation can be set aside, energy flows back into my limbs.

The weekend passed quickly in a blur of vegetables bought at the farmer’s market and a long, slow succession of afternoons spent in the sun, chatting, playing cards, and watching those who had drawn out Friday night’s party into Saturday afternoon as they stumbled between wagons, trains of thought, and bottles of beer.

I wear my rubber boots like slippers as I tramp across the Platz with a wheelbarrow looking for bricks with which to build a wall around one of the new raised vegetable gardens, as I pull a wild carrot out from between thistles and nettles, as I pause to watch a white butterfly—the first of the season—hover over the tulip bed and dip out of sight.

Monday March 21st 2011, 1:54 pm 3 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life,wagenplatz


click clack gorilla on letters from frau dietz

Wohoo! An interview! Expat Brit Frau Dietz has been doing a series of interviews with bloggers who have moved to Germany from afar. Having been here for six years now, I had to dig rather deeply to answer some of her questions, and it resulted in a nice little time travel excursion for me and a (I like to imagine) nice little interview for you. Read it here.

Friday March 18th 2011, 4:09 pm 2 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies


bushes: 0, click clack gorilla: 300

In one ecstatic day of spring we cut a meter of width off of the bushes across from my front door. The weather, the activity, the smell of spring in the air—I was excited, ready to flex my spade and start building a few new raised beds. Then I remembered I had to work the following two days, and the weather, merciful for once, remained cold and wet and unpleasant while I did my time at my desk in Frankfurt. Unfortunately, the weather, feeling rather pleased with itself, has continued the pattern right into my days off.

Not a day for planting it seems, but I putter around outside in my red-and-white-polka-dotted rubber boots all the same, rearranging groups of chairs, re-potting the three sage bushes I’ve raised from seed—their size a testament to how long I have now lived in this place. There was one glorious day of completely ignoring the wood stove, followed by three days of only giving into fire at night.

Having won our battle against the bushes, there is now much more room for garden beds than I’d imagined. And images of zucchini and spinach danced in her head…

Are any of you planting (or planning) your gardens already? What’s on the menu this summer? I’ve already got a large stash of bottles to recreate Nim’s recycled bottle fencing

Friday March 18th 2011, 4:06 pm 4 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life


zombies: 1, click clack gorilla: 0

The last two mornings have begun with a short jog—not the kind in which you grudgingly force yourself out of bed and into the jogging shoes that will take you out into the surrounding country, but the kind that takes place between bus and train when you arrive at the station and glimpse the large clock hanging on its façade.

While dodging pedestrians and sprinting up escalators (why is the world full of people who do not understand escalator etiquette? the right side is for standing and the left side is for sprinting, damn it) I imagine myself in a zombie apocalypse situation, hoards of the undead behind me just dying (hardee har har har) to feast on my adrenaline-filled flesh.

Would I make it through alive? The odds are not in my favor. Despite my renewed jogging habit, at the top of the escalator I’m out of breath, and all those Hollywood zombies (and apocalypse survivors) seem to be Olympic sprinters.

The way I see it, the zombie apocalypse is as good a reason as any to take that extra lap on the track. We’re all just running in circles anyway.

Thursday March 17th 2011, 11:36 am 7 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life


dumpster find of the week: the bucking cow

I was really glad that some folks I know are about to have a baby, as I was glad to have a reason to take this little plush cow rocking chair home with me.

And don’t forget, you too can submit your dumpster booty to be paraded around the pages of Click Clack Gorilla. Send an e-mail with photos and stories to nicolettekyle [at] yahoo [dot] com.

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Wednesday March 16th 2011, 7:30 am Leave a Comment
Filed under: conspiracies,dumpster diving,dumpster finds,freegan