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Dear Rusty,

In other environs, I have noted that it’s really not worth my time or anyone else’s to mock style articles in the New York Times. It’s a joke everyone in the universe is in on, and it starts to feel a little mean-spirited after a while because it is. It totally, totally, totally is. I mean it in the meanest, ugliest possible way. It’s a pastime that provides the momentary satisfaction of feeling clever but is otherwise a poor use of my expertise in and fine feelings about the law, feminism, fabric arts, baking, cocktails, a life richly-lived, etc.

That said, axes wtf. W t effinf f. You know, they guy making the axes actually comes out on top here. Sounds like he’s having an nice time making attractive and potentially useful things, and like he’s had a rough few years. I don’t underestimate the value of fine tools.  I have a good electric drill and a meh electric drill and the difference in drilling experience is to be remarked upon.  I cut him infinite slack, though he was pretty cruelly baited by Penelope Green:

Mr. Buchanan-Smith, who says that he constantly worries that he’ll be perceived as “just some design hipster kicking it old-school selling some chic tools to a handful of other hipsters.”

Still, seven of his axes are hanging in the Saatchi Gallery in London. Seth Godin, the entrepreneur and marketing guru, has one, and so do Leonard Lauder, David Lynch and Mike Jones, the president of MySpace.


Paola Antonelli, the senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art (and a former teacher of Mr. Buchanan-Smith’s at the School of Visual Arts), described his axes as “the ultimate antidote to life on the high-broadband lane.”

She added: “Tools, especially beautifully crafted ones, are irresistible, and it is not only a guys’ thing. If hardware store catalogs are already enough to make us swoon, imagine a collection of perfectly crafted axes. They shoot an electric shock right smack into the archipallium.” (For those of you who can’t quickly look up this last word, the archipallium is the oldest part of the brain.)

Ok. psyching myself up, I am able to charitably read this to say ” she is saying this is an attractive item which dovetails nicely with the trends toward designed tools faclitating a diy/”authentic” experience.   That’s fine, Paola. But why did she have to bring the archipallum into it?  Aside from the fact that the metaphor of being hit in the brain is perhaps one you want to keep out of your articles about axes, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the archipallum. It is what fish have, basically. It deals with reflex and self-preservation. It has 100000 percent of nothing to do with how nice any given axe looks to us, I promise.

Anyway now I’ve registered my discontent with the using fake science to talk about axe design. But I actually would like to know your feelings on this D-I-Y jibber jabber more generally, as an economist. Is it leading us all to hell, or to a utopian heaven where ebveryone has their own really nice axe?

-[real name REDACTED]Violet G. Beekeeper

P.S. I realized what my problem is. My brother, Angel St. Clare, was a bike messenger so I am basically like, the total authority on all this. He never rode a fixie. NEVER. But kinda wanted one. Now I am seeing all these fucking fixies all over. No one needs a fixie except for a bike messenger. You don’t need do go backwards, it’s harder to get around, it is not something you need and when I see your fixie I know you are a douche unless you are a messenger when I know you can spit good. Anyway I think axes are basically the fixies of even more stupid. ok ambien kicking in better go eat a cake/buy modeling clay on line have sex with neighbors

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  • Rusty B. Schwartz  On 6 July, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    As an unlicensed economist, I’d have to say* that DIY generally makes a mockery of comparative advantage, but on the other hand: fuck it, there’s such a thing as non-use value, right? Which in layman’s terms means if you get off on making axes, you get off on making axes.

    More specifically, now I wonder about ax prices and also about what I could do with an ax. I suspect that the things I would do with ax would be kind of inefficient.

    *actually I don’t have to say shit since I’m not licensed.

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