TALISMANIC OBJECTS (22)
June 11, 2017
One in a 25-part series of nonfiction stories about objects of talismanic significance. This is the second volume in the PROJECT:OBJECT series. Please subscribe to the P:O newsletter; and purchase P:O apparel and accessories — all profits will be donated to the ACLU!
As a little kid in the 1960s with limited access to television, my role models were my friends’ big brothers. My friends certainly weren’t role models — they were dweebs like me. And grown ups — they might as well have been a different species, with a way of thinking that made them impossible to relate to. Big brothers were still kids, but infinitely more sophisticated and wiser than 6-years-olds like me (who big brothers regarded with indifference at best and as sticky-fingered pests at all other times).
It was a thrill to walk past a big brother’s open bedroom door and sneak a glimpse in their rooms to find Aurora Monster Models, Mars Attacks trading cards, black light fluorescent posters, MAD magazines, Green Hornet’s Black Beauty model car, Cowsills LPs, Lost In Space View-Master reels, Super Balls, Sixfingers, and Ka-Bala game boards. To me, these treasures will forever be imbued with big brother mojo.
I have a talisman that I can use to summon big brother mojo. It’s a Martian Fink ring — a little armless vinyl creature with pointed ears, antennae, square feet, and a long tongue curling from its leering mouth. It’s attached to a plastic ring so I can wear it on my finger (I don’t).
The Martian Fink is a knock-off of the much more popular Rat Fink character created by custom car builder Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. It was manufactured as a gumball machine novelty in 1965 by the Henal Novelty and Premium Co. Anyone with five cents could buy one, but I didn’t know that at the time. I was too dense or shy to ask my friend’s big brother, who had one in 1967, where he got his. As a big brother, he simply had access to cool stuff that I could only dream about.
I bought mine on eBay 15 years ago, and keep it in a box in my bed table drawer. I try not to look at it too much, because I don’t want the magic to run out.
TALISMANIC OBJECTS series: INTRODUCTION | Veda Hille on CROCHET SHEEP | Gary Panter on DINOSAUR BONES | Jami Attenberg on SELENITE CRYSTAL | Annie Nocenti on MINIATURE DICE | Wayne Curtis on CLOCK WINDING KEY | Judith Zissman on SPINDLE WHORL | Amy Fusselman on BOX OF PENCILS | Josh Glenn on MONKEY WHIMSEY | Mike Watt on DASHBOARD TOTEMS | Gordon Dahlquist on CLAY FOX | Mark Kingwell on ZIPPO | Jennifer Schuessler on BEER-CAN CHAIR | Anne Gisleson on WISDOM TEETH | Ben Ehrenreich on CHROME LUMP | Matthew De Abaitua on HATCHET | Ty Burr on INFLATABLE KING KONG | Jacob Covey on ARGUS COIN | Jessica Helfand on PILL BOTTLE | Shelley Jackson on IMPUNITY JANE | Jennifer Krasinski on LEO’S LIGHTER | Molly Heintz on EVIL EYE | Mark Frauenfelder on MARTIAN FINK RING | Amanda Fortini on PRAYER CARD | Ed Skoog on MAMMOTH IVORY | CONTEST-WINNING STORY: Seth on PEANUTS PAPERBACK.
POLITICAL OBJECTS series: INTRODUCTION | Luc Sante on CAMPAIGN PAMPHLETS | Lydia Millet on PVC POLAR BEAR | Ben Greenman on MATCHBOX CAR | Rob Baedeker on PRESIDENTS PLACEMAT | L.A. Kauffman on WHEATPASTE POSTER | & 20 MORE.
SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS series (4Q2017) | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects. ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007).