Yes. This is a stuntish post.
Featured is material culture – scraps of trash from the streets and alleys and yards of Berkeley. They look like what one sees in Found Magazine.
The stunt: brought home by Darwin the Retrieving Cat of Berkeley.
His spokesperson, who groks Quirky Berkeley as well as anybody on the planet and who cares about those who are less fortunate and who fights for our dear old Berkeley and just plain all-around inspires with full-throttle, no-brakes living, explains:
A friend from West Oakland called me. He had found an orphaned kitten. I was going to just socialize him and adopt him out, but that … uh … didn’t happen. I knew from the get-go that he was odd. I called him Darwin because I was convinced he was going to naturally select himself out of the gene pool. If there was a dangerous object, he would find it. He would chew on tacks, broken glass, scissors, X-Acto blades, walk toward hot burners and open flames, that sort of thing.
He started out by bringing leaves. It took me a while to figure out how they were getting in the house. The early ones scared me. I was living alone at the time, and I found them under the kitchen table. I finally remembered to look for the fang marks. Phew.
I think the first non-leaf thing was the instructions for quinine bush tea. He still makes a big yowling announcement when he brings these gifts. If I’m out really late, I’m lucky to get anything. If I’m home early, he’ll sometimes make 5 or 6 trips. Most of it is just yucky garbage, though.
Darwin is a retriever of things. A thief? I don’t think so, but it has been argued that he is a thief. He retrieves/steals – always at night, from neighbors near North Berkeley BART. Mostly paper items, but occasional surprises.
Exclusive Shoes in Richmond – what are you trying to say here Darwin?
Union endorsements! Solidarity forever Darwin! UNION STRONG!
Here Darwin is researching Diversitech’s Silent Support Anti-Vibration Pad. These anti-vibration pads are designed to reduce vibration and noise associated with HVAC equipment and other similar machinery. Memo from Darwin – too much noise.
Aces and eights – the hand held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was killed – hence the name “Deadman’s Hand.” Darwin is a student of American history.
Please Darwin please – no cigarettes. This is not the only time he has brought home cigarette packaging. Please, no!
Here Darwin found Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, to be of interest. During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out. Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie’s world upside down. At her feverish mother’s insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease. (Thanks Scholastic.com).
It would appear that Darwin is planning to call United Printing in Oakland. They specialize in Chinese wedding invitations. What up with that Darwin?
Jesus Darwin – don’t play with matches! (Wow Tom – I got “Jesus” and “Darwin” juxtaposed!)
Here’s Jesus again – this time an El Cerrito auto upholstery Jesus.
I am amused.
I am impressed.
I am smiling. I am tempted to say LOL. But won’t.
You may follow Darwin on his Facebook page, which now includes some motion-activated video footage of Darwin bringing his found objects home in the middle of the night How absolutely brilliant is it that the Spokesperson would go to this length to record the Bringing Of Things? All of these photos come from that Facebook page, with the permission of his spokesperson who took the photos.
And – dig this – Found magazine did a shout-out to Darwin:
In August 2014, the United States Copyright Office clarified their rules to explicitly state that items created by a non-human cannot be copyrighted, If Darwin ever chooses to challenge this, I’m with him. This feline Wally Berman can find objects like nobody’s business.
I showed the post to my friend. After scrolling through it, he showed me a Balthus print he had just bought, an ink drawing from the Mitsou series:
Balthus – Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (1908-2001) – was a Polish-French artist. He had no interest in conventions of the art world. He resisted all attempts to construct a biography. He sent a telegram sent to the Tate Gallery in 1968 as it prepared for a Balthus retrospective. It read: “NO BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS. BEGIN: BALTHUS IS A PAINTER OF WHOM NOTHING IS KNOWN. NOW LET US LOOK AT THE PICTURES. REGARDS. B.”
My friend thought that the print worked well with his evolving Danish Modern decor. I agree. And I see the connection – cat in art, cat’s art. As they said in EST – got it. I further agreed that we’d sit down and go through the Balthus books he’d bought but first, please, his impression of Darwin’s found-object art?
“I know the spokesperson. Rock solid righteous.”
And Darwin’s art?
So, how did Darwin cope with his new fame?
As the clicks and likes and shares poured in, Darwin took it all in stride. He assured anyone who would listen that he was the same old Darwin.
In the nights following publication of the post, he kept his nose to the grindstone. He did not lose a step. He kept at it. His Facebook page continues to chronicle his art, with still photos and an ever-growing body of video.
In the long run, success may spoil Darwin. But at least in his first week of fame, he has kept it real.