Letterpress List No. 78: Bucket Brigade

It all comes down to a difference in plumbing.

Which is how Shop Boy once again found himself in the ladies’ room with a 10-gallon bucket.

Oh, it’s not what you think … whatever it is you might be thinking. Mary had recently gotten a hands-on tutorial in the use of our Jet platemaker from her partner in crime at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Kyle Van Horn. And suddenly we were ready to burn our own polymer plates. Our roommate’s departure had left a perfect little office of its own for the Jet. Whew. Polymer plates can be kinda stinky to create. And with Mary’s super-sensitive nose, it just wasn’t working out to make plates in the main space. Now, if the plates stink, just close the door and turn on the exhaust fan.

Anyway, bringing this machine online is something that’s been way overdue, so that’s exciting. A visit from the plumber to our studio is way overdue as well, however.

So Shop Boy frequents the ladies’ room. Oh, it’s not a bad place to hang out.

Most ladies’ rooms tend to be better equipped than the guys’. And for a factory restroom, this one’s pretty fancy-schmancy. Flowery couches, cool old free-standing pink sinks, curtains, clean stalls …

And the utility sink?

Yep. Guess they figured if they put it in the men’s room, guys would just pee in it or something. The sad part is they’re probably right. Geez. The men’s room across the hall has a couple of urinals, two truly scary stalls and a cheap-o formica countertop with two little sinks protected by — oh, let’s just say that most guys couldn’t reach to pee in them. And they’re tough to get water out of, too. That’s why Shop Boy needs the utility sink. Did I mention the men’s room trash can with the sign over it that reads: “No Trash: For Recyclables Only”?

Excuse me? Recycling in the restroom? Takes all kinds, I guess.

The ladies’ room utility sink has hot and cold water, meaning you can blend them to create the right temperature, like high 70s F or something. Then, off you go down the hall to where the Jet awaits, dump in the first gallons, then back to the ladies’ room. It takes about 15 gallons between the Jet and the rinse basin, by Shop Boy’s estimate.

But Shop Boy won’t complain much more than I already have, for even I can see how lucky we are.

Mary, Shop Boy and Typecast Press inhabit the space where Noxema was invented. For real. In fact, many of the locals still refer to Fox Industries as “the Noxema Building.” Cool by us, since our main suite consists of the Noxema president’s office and that of his executive secretary. Honest, we’ve got pictures. Not sure they’d have liked how we’ve painted the place. White to lime green can be an adjustment. They’d have liked the cocktail lounge, though.

There’s an old poster above a door that says helpfully: “Your whiskers are ‘dead.’ It’s your skin that hurts.” In that spirit, the company would give tons of the goop to workers with their paychecks. Judging by the looks of some of the older folks in our Hampden neighborhood, most of the boys sold the Noxema for smokes. OK, that’s mean. But there’s a local watering hole called Zissimo’s in which the real, vanishing, um, characters of Hampden pass the time. So, the city passes a no-smoking-in-restaurants law. Yay! Now all the folks from Zissimo’s begin venturing out to the sidewalk — and into the sunlight — for a puff … and immediately there’s talk of granting the bar a waiver from the law.

Swear to god.

But back to Noxema headquarters. Because he was the big boss, the president’s office — and now our printshop — includes a personal restroom with its own presidential “throne.” As for the secretary, she had her own washroom too, less exalted but pretty handy. And this is the space that our photographer roommate had long used as his darkroom. It wasn’t until he moved out that we could really see that the toilet and sink were still there.

For better and worse.

The worse is that it’s kind of gross right now.

The better is what the plumber’s going to deliver: a hose for filling the Jet, and a drain for emptying it afterward. Yes, those buckets of wastewater have to be lugged back to the utility sink. (Basically, it works like this: Lay the negative against the orange piece of plastic, turn on some high-test, ultraviolet lights to expose it — avert your eyes, kids, or you’ll go blind — and then what’s exposed hardens. The scrubbers remove the rest, which becomes part of the wastewater. And off Shop Boy goes.)

Oh, yes, and there are a number of ladies working in the building. So Shop Boy knocks. Even if it’s 2 in the morning. And sometimes I make Mary go in first.

I mean … they might be recycling in there or something.


Letterpress List No. 78

Hey, any day now, the letterpress family will be welcoming a new little printer into the world. The other side of the world. Lou at Poppy Letterpress is about to, well, pop. Check out her blog entry announcing she’s shutting down operations in Canberra, Australia, until the baby’s born. Now, I only know Lou and her hubby in a virtual sense. But please send wishes for an easy delivery her way if you get a chance. As a longtime reader of this blog, she’s suffered enough.

(Of course, Shop Boy can say that about all of my regular readers, but we won’t go there, will we? Thank you.)

So, for Lou, how about an hour’s worth of music to chase away the labor pains? Video links are courtesy of YouTube.

Tom Traubert’s Blues Tom Waits (With a Waltzing Matilda chaser. Oddly lovely.)
Just a Girl
No Doubt (For the most beautiful parents on the planet. Sorry, Lou … I mean Gwen and Gavin. But it was close.)
— Gavin Rossdale (Here’s to exciting times for us all.)
Ladies RoomKiss (Knock, knock. Who’s there? SB. SB who? SB a pain in the butt, yo. When’s the plumber coming?)
Stephen Lynch (He’s such a bad little boy.)
Stay Up Late Talking Heads (Good luck with that.)
New SensationINXS (Indeed.)
Detroit Lullaby
Hamill on Trial (Enjoy your crib time, kid. It’s a tough world out there.)
Wild World
Cat Stevens (You betcha. It could make you a little crazy, even.)
London Still
the Waifs (Saw the Aussie band at Baltimore’s Artscape. Fell hard for the voices.)
Lightning Crashes
Live (OK, I’m a sap.)
I’m My Own Grandpaw
Willie Nelson (He was smoking something when he wrote this, god bless the old doper.)
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Guns N’ Roses (Not a very good boy, either. Probably pees in the utility sink.)
52 Girls
the B-52s (For the ladies of Fox Industries. OK, there are more like nine. Whatever.)
Gone Like the WaterFreedy Johnston (7.5 gallons at a time.)
Girls Beastie Boys (Who could ask for more?)
Business TimeFlight of the Conchords (Recycling is not part of the foreplay, but it’s very important.)

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2 Responses to “Letterpress List No. 78: Bucket Brigade”

  1. pimashburn Says:

    Wicked. That’s just wicked. Wicked sweet.

  2. Lou Says:

    You’ve made my day! Love the song choices too.
    Alas, the child is now overdue, so I have plenty of time to collect the songs from the list that I don’t already have. It has to make an appearance soon though, we have projects lined up to print next month and I’ll need to extra set of hands :)
    ~ Lou

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