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January 27, 2012


This is a beautiful story. Such a bummer that the Pantheon didn't accept what had been done, though I can't say I was surprised.

That's ... amazing. And the denouement typical and banal.

Here's a trespassing story. I have others, but this one fits here...

Back in college (when else?), I roomed with an art major. We also worked together at a coffee house that was popular with a certain set of college students and local artist and writer types (this was the pre-Starbucks era when southern California coffee houses strove for North Beach Bohemianism).

Just prior to the Christmas break, we both conceived artsy gifts for our girlfriends, him a bust, me an etching of a stick figure comic (I wasn't an art major), from which I would make a print to wrap the rest of the gift (a book: I was an English major). All the tools and materials we would need were within reach at the school's art department.

Unfortunately the semester had ended, the various spaces had been cleaned, the materials stored away, and the doors and windows locked.

My friend the art major, however, had secured a key to the sculpture studio from a teacher. My friend had taken an "incomplete" during the previous semester (the bust would be both gift and final grade) and explained that he intended to get a head start on next semester's projects. This key let us into the building and nearly every other room within it, including, especially, the printmaking studio.

And so for several long nights and mornings my friend and I camped in the sculpture studio, him working on the bust, me scratching my design onto a square of copper plate. Throughout we encountered nobody else; no students, no teachers, no campus policemen. It was only us, and our projects, and the Pixies blaring from the boombox.

Eventually, early Christmas Eve morning, we crept into the printmaking studio to create my giftwrap. "Crept" because while we had a ready excuse for our presence in the sculpture studio, we had none for our use of the printing press, which had been cleaned and made ready for the semester to come. We had made several test prints and had just inked the plate for another run when we heard footsteps. We'd left the door open a notch and the light fixtures above buzzed and flickered; discovery was inevitable. I hoped it was someone other than a campus policeman, but at that hour, it was unlikely to be anyone else.

The stakes weren't high -- at worst we'd be cited for trespassing. And the key my friend held would certainly be confiscated, barring us from further use of the school's resources. Christmas would be spoiled. Our girlfriends would receive unlikely stories rather than handmade gifts. For a moment we debated, in whispers, whether to escape through an adjoining room or stay where we were, our ink covered hands resting on an ink covered press.

We decided instead to exit into the hallway and face the footsteps directly. Maybe we could deflect attention from our use of the press? The chance was slim, but it was better than waiting to be caught.

So we stepped out of the studio into the dark hallway. To the left, from the direction of the footsteps, flashlight echoes roamed the wall opposite a corner to another hallway. When the policeman finally turned the corner, he stopped, and shined the light in our faces. There was only the glare and his silhouette behind.

"What are you doing here?"

"Well," my friend began.

"No. 'What are YOU doing here?'."

He lowered his flashlight and stepped closer. My friend laughed and said, "Hey, man!", and after my eyes adjusted and caught up a moment later I recognized him, too, from my shifts at the coffee house. The campus policeman was a regular. He was only a couple of years older than we were, mid twenties rather than early. He was also a musician or something; nobody really knew because he didn't say much and seemed generally square. And he was a cop.

"You're not supposed to be here. I saw the light on from outside. They close this down for a reason, you know."

We explained what we were doing and why and showed him the prints we had made and the plate we had inked and the press we had dirtied.

"You'll have to clean this up. You're not supposed to be here. Finish what you're doing and clean it all up, just like you found it. And lock the door. I'll be back in an hour to check."

Christmas was saved.

He didn't come any closer to joining the coffee house community*. But he never paid for coffee during any of our shifts, either.

*Curiously, a couple of years ago, he stood behind the counter at one of the local Starbucks while I ordered a "large brewed." I didn't recognize him immediately (wrong uniform). But I know he didn't recognize me; he charged me for my coffee.

Great story, Model62!

Jeannot’s then-deputy, Pascal Monnet, is now the Pantheon’s director, and he has gone so far as to hire a clockmaker to restore the clock to its previous condition by resabotaging it.

This is where the story enters the serious you-gotta-be-kiddin-me territory.

Reminds me of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3-Iron>this wonderful movie.


Wow. I've gotta add that to the netflix queue.

I think in most of the world you'll rather find it under either the original title 'Bin-Jip' or as 'Empty Houses'.

Wha-a-a-t, Hartmut, it doesn't remind you of this movie? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970179/

Thanks for that story, model62. Any others? Slart, did you participate in any hacks at MIT?

Maybe not the same, but here you go anyway:

As a kid I lived across the street from a municipal golf course. Naturally, it became our extended playground...selling found balls back to golfers, the 5 cent kool-aid stand we ran (mom was the venture captalist). Getting our business shut down by the local pro....(enforcing his 19th hole monopoly).

There was this short, but steeply uphill par 3. From the tee, the players could only see the very top of an overly tall flag pin. Every once and a while we'd sit by the green waiting for somebody to knock it close...then sneak up and put the ball in the hole. Hole-in-one!

Juvenile mischief? Unconscionable crime? A false flag operation? Every golfer should meet his Maker with one of those (or believing he did).

I blogged about this at the time. Unfortunately the CBC As It Happens interview to which I linked doesn't seem to be retrievable any longer, at least not directly from my blog post.

Wha-a-a-t, Hartmut, it doesn't remind you of this movie? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970179/

I had not yet a chance to see that. Remember that Europe gets US movies usually with some delay unless it is a super duper blockbuster. I also want to watch The Artist but that also started her only 2 days ago.

I'm a Purdue grad, lj; would have been a long commute. But no; the pranks I did were pretty much all computer-related and not very elaborate.

Harftmut, I would also recommend the book, an almost-graphic novel: http://www.theinventionofhugocabret.com/index.htm

Sorry about that slart, I misremembered, or I thought you did your undergrad there and graduate work at MIT.

No, there's no MIT anywhere in my resume. Not offended; rather, feeling unduly honored.


No imagination. You should have put the ball right on the lip. Preferably behind the hole.

then sneak up and put the ball in the hole. Hole-in-one! . . . Every golfer should meet his Maker with one of those (or believing he did).

Your reward will be great.

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