Tuesday, May 5, 2009

fore and aft, picks and a picker

We're talking standard issue li'l wooden toothpicks, from which Wayne Kusy (who also plays guitar in a band called Heavy Mental) has fashioned detailed replicas of sailing ships like the Cutty Sark and Queen Mary.  His fifteen foot Lusitania (193,000 toothpicks) is still on display at AVAM in Baltimore.   He calls ships like these "castles on the water" and pours hours, days, and ultimately years into forming them (in sections) in his third floor apartment not too far from Wrigley Field.

Wayne admits that in many cases, he's building models from someone else's model, since older boats aren't that pictorially well-preserved.   But getting the intricacies right matters to him. Over the years, he's perfected his construction methods, gluing together hulls so strong you can set a bowling ball atop them.  But that doesn't mean the boats travel without some damage. Each time one goes off to a show, picks do tend to tumble.  That's inevitable, he figures, when you're making things that you aren't supposed to be able to make in the first place.

Speaking of Wrigley, we did stop by the grand old ballpark just after the Cubbies had lost again, tossed back a Goose River brew or two and stuffed down perhaps the best nachos ever.  This, along with a couple of other iconic Windy City sights on our tour of the town where Don lived from '76 to '79--those wigged-out weinies atop the Super Dawg Drive-In on North Milwaukee, and the Leaning Tower of Niles, for which we brought out the Big Ball.  And the little ball too, for some vigorous catch at this repurposed old water tower (half Pisa size) in front of the Niles YMCA.  The sign said "no skating or bicycling" but it didn't mention throwing softballs into the fountains. No pepper(oni), indeed!

Music In the Van--"Tupelo Honey" Van Morrison
Don's found $$ total--not sure, but the drunks around Wrigley seemed to be leaving a pretty good trail of coinage.  I'll know more tomorrow,...

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