Forgotten Freedoms


All of these work if you print them out and make them. You could cut up your copy of BIUL II, but you don’t have one, and if you did, you wouldn’t want to mutilate the stuff on the other side of the page. I would hope.

On occasion, here in Little 5 Points, local kids will set up a drink stand. I have to point this out, because it’s wonderful. When I see a news link about a kids’ drink stand getting shut down by authorities, my canine teeth lengthen slightly, the better to tear the throats out of the mean adults. I cannot abide deliberate dream-smashing of creative children. It makes me crave the coppery taste of grown-up blood.

Fear always gives way to submission and control. You can start a rumor about an apple with a razor blade in it, and kids will be made to stay home for Halloween. Prank calls lead to “swatting“, and federal scrutiny. If a kid sees a cartoon character commit suicide, they will follow suit, with Dad’s hidden pistol. Children are basically parrots. Hey, we all were while growing up, right?


You mean… these seemingly harmful events actually helped us grow? They made us who we are? Childhood is actually a learning experience, and not rote obeisance? Huh.

Good thing kids are staring into screens these days, then. As adults, they’ll be nice and weak, begging for help from authorities. Whatever it takes to keep that screen lit, they will do in desperation. It means more than sustenance, shelter, or personal integrity. It keeps them connected with phony celebrities who lie professionally for political payola.

I am a wizard with a single-edge razor blade. It’s all I use for cutting paper; I almost never use an X-Acto knife, or a retractable handle. Just a little rectangle of metal, where one side means safe, and the other means very, very sorry.

My oldest companion.

They come cheap in cases of 100. I bought one decades ago, because one blade lasts for years. I don’t let anyone else have one unless they receive The Lecture.

“THIS WILL CUT YOU. More deeply and quickly than anything has ever cut you before. You won’t even feel it at first. It will sink through your flesh before you realize it. Not into, through. You will bleed out and perish before help arrives. I state this emphatically: THIS CAN KILL YOU.

“You know what? Give it back to me. You’re gonna cut yourself. What are you doing, clipping coupons? Use the scissors. You’re better off. Hand me the razor blade.


That’s a re-imagining of the speech my dad gave me, when he first allowed me to use a razor blade.

I was nine years old.

I wanted to make windows in a cardboard box, to turn it into a building. You cannot do this with a pair of scissors. A razor blade sinks right into the corrugation, slicing perfect doors and window frames. Then you can glue a square of clear acetate behind the cardboard, use the razor blade to make a sphincter of “broken glass”, and chuck an action figure through it. It looks like they’re being thrown out a window!!!

A backdrop from Snack Break. I could not have done this without a razor blade.

Since the time I was nine years old, I have accidentally cut myself with a razor blade maybe once. I have no horrific, bloody stories to tell you. I saw my father patiently and carefully working with a tool, I expressed interest, and he introduced me to the skill of that tool. He probably started me off with a dull one.

But even with a dull one, I could “erase” images in a glossy magazine, by scraping the top layer of the print away. This exposed the white paper beneath, upon which you could write or draw. Suddenly, the world of print was your oyster, and the blade was your shucker. Any joker could take a Biro and scribble onto an issue of Parade; with the edge of a razor, you could render decent-looking speech balloons.

Needless to say, this opened a universe of subversion and creative vandalism, a vital part of myself to this very day.

All because a man handed a child a sharp object.


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