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Saturday, November 19, 2011

holoblomo day 19: fascinating

note: “holoblomo” stands for Horribly Local Blogging Month, my response to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) that happens every November. The NaNoWriMo challenge asks writers to compose 50,000 words in a month; I chose 10,000 as my goal. Enjoy.

So here we are.
There’s a fascinating place in New York City.
I know. That’s an unfair sentence, right? Because there are a lot of fascinating places here. There are also secret places, underrated places, odd places, and places that deserve every adjective in the book. 
Maybe I’m the only one who finds it fascinating. But since I have home-blog advantage, I get to choose the descriptor. 

This fascinating place is a recording studio. That’s not what makes it fascinating. It’s not the oldest; at least, I don’t think it is. It’s certainly had its share of incredible, legendary musicians and vocalists pass through its doors, but that can be said of pretty much all of the remaining major studios in town. The talented engineers are fantastically good guys, but again, par for the course. 
I’ve been to studios with better food, better beverage selection, plusher seats, fresher candy, and more elegant bathrooms, but this place has an amenity that I’m not sure everyone would recognize as being special, unless you worked there:
They have the best pencils. Ever.
There was a time when I absolutely hated pencils. They’d smudge. The lead was too hard. It wouldn’t sharpen evenly, or would be splintery. The paint would flake off. The eraser was useless, either leaving hard pink trails in its wake, or simply smearing the mistake into a ghostly gray cloud. Mechanical pencils were even worse, snapping every time I put the slightest pressure on the nib, sending little tubes of lead everywhere. Plus, they were scratchy, making little impressions in the paper. Me and pencils were not okay, and most every attempt at sketching ended in failure, and not just because my art skills are mediocre. 
Until I went to this studio. 
So smooth was the lead, so perfect was the eraser, so light and slim was the entire package, that I was shocked. All it took was a single scribbled performance note in the margins of my sheet music to make me a believer. 
And so I pocketed one. You know, by accident.
The next time I was at the studio, two. I don’t know how they got in my bag. 
After a few years, the subject of the pencils was finally broached. Turns out, I was not the only devotee. The studio guys knew that their pencils walked out the door on a daily basis. They didn’t care. In fact, they loved it.
However, when asked (and repeatedly so) who their vendor was, who made the pencils and how one could order them, the guys are absolutely mum. They would sooner give you an entire box of their own pencils than tell you from whence they came.
I myself have been given fistfuls, gladly, every time I leave there. For this I am grateful, since I don’t find myself there very often. And as such, these pencils are dear. Whenever I do a staged reading, or am working with music or a script, these are the only pencils I use, and I always make sure to have one on hand when I’m working. I will gladly lend it to you, but I will watch you like a hawk to make sure I get it back. A pencil.
Are you convinced? That’s a fascinating place, right?
I thought so.
And that’s 8289 words. 
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.


  1. I gather the pencils don't have a brand name on them? That'd be too easy huh.

    Maybe they're ILLEGALLY making pencils in their basement and that's why they don't want you to know! It'd also explain how they're able to just hand you bunches after bunches of pencils... who does that? Unless they have an unlimited supply...

    OR! They might be rubbing off the brand names... like serial numbers. Could be hot pencils ;)

    Speaking of fascinating places... I just realized you might like a place I wrote about recently -if you don't already know about it. If you do, you can just wave at the pictures.

  2. Noisy---

    Typically, good custom pencils and pens that businesses don't have manufacturer's info on it. There are a lot of companies that do supplies for corporations and companies, as well as companies that do custom novelty stuff, so figuring out which one it could possibly be without any leads is impossible.

    I think they gladly give them away because they like having their name out there (the studio name and phone number is on the pencils), and there are worse ways to drum up business, as a lot of studios in NYC have closed in the last five years. And I'm sure that they can keep handing them out because of "volume, volume, volume." No pun intended.

    The pictures and story in your blog is amazing. Thanks for sharing.


  3. ... yes, I made a comment grammar boo-boo. "...ARE amazing." Apologies.

  4. Ah, they're customized pencils. Yes those are often handed out like candy. I thought they might be blanks. I'm pretty shameless re asking about pens when I see pharmaceutical reps. They're more than happy to give away logo pens, mugs, flashlights... - I'm easy to please ;)

    Neat carousel huh? Kind of out of the way, but not a bad place to visit for a walk/skate/swim. I think it's the only State Park in Manhattan.